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GistScore: Learning Better Representations for In-Context Example Selection with Gist Bottlenecks

Shivanshu GuptaClemens RosenbaumEthan R. Elenberg
Nov 2023
Large language models (LLMs) have the ability to perform in-context learning (ICL) of new tasks by conditioning on prompts comprising a few task examples. This work studies the problem of selecting the best examples given a candidate pool to improve ICL performance on given a test input. Existing approaches either require training with feedback from a much larger LLM or are computationally expensive. We propose a novel metric, GistScore, based on Example Gisting, a novel approach for training example retrievers for ICL using an attention bottleneck via Gisting, a recent technique for compressing task instructions. To tradeoff performance with ease of use, we experiment with both fine-tuning gist models on each dataset and multi-task training a single model on a large collection of datasets. On 21 diverse datasets spanning 9 tasks, we show that our fine-tuned models get state-of-the-art ICL performance with 20% absolute average gain over off-the-shelf retrievers and 7% over the best prior methods. Our multi-task model generalizes well out-of-the-box to new task categories, datasets, and prompt templates with retrieval speeds that are consistently thousands of times faster than the best prior training-free method.
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