Probing Structured Semantics Understanding and Generation of Language Models via Question Answering


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Recent advancement in the capabilities of large language models (LLMs) has triggered a new surge in LLMs' evaluation. Most recent evaluation works tends to evaluate the comprehensive ability of LLMs over series of tasks. However, the deep structure understanding of natural language is rarely explored. In this work, we examine the ability of LLMs to deal with structured semantics on the tasks of question answering with the help of the human-constructed formal language. Specifically, we implement the inter-conversion of natural and formal language through in-context learning of LLMs to verify their ability to understand and generate the structured logical forms. Extensive experiments with models of different sizes and in different formal languages show that today's state-of-the-art LLMs' understanding of the logical forms can approach human level overall, but there still are plenty of room in generating correct logical forms, which suggest that it is more effective to use LLMs to generate more natural language training data to reinforce a small model than directly answering questions with LLMs. Moreover, our results also indicate that models exhibit considerable sensitivity to different formal languages. In general, the formal language with the lower the formalization level, i.e. the more similar it is to natural language, is more LLMs-friendly.
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