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Language Model Alignment with Elastic Reset

Michael Noukhovitch · Samuel Lavoie · Florian Strub · Aaron Courville

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #2000
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Tue 12 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


Finetuning language models with reinforcement learning (RL), e.g. from human feedback (HF), is a prominent method for alignment. But optimizing against a reward model can improve on reward while degrading performance in other areas, a phenomenon known as reward hacking, alignment tax, or language drift. First, we argue that commonly-used test metrics are insufficient and instead measure how different algorithms tradeoff between reward and drift. The standard method modified the reward with a Kullback-Lieber (KL) penalty between the online and initial model. We propose Elastic Reset, a new algorithm that achieves higher reward with less drift without explicitly modifying the training objective. We periodically reset the online model to an exponentially moving average (EMA) of itself, then reset the EMA model to the initial model. Through the use of an EMA, our model recovers quickly after resets and achieves higher reward with less drift in the same number of steps. We demonstrate that fine-tuning language models with Elastic Reset leads to state-of-the-art performance on a small scale pivot-translation benchmark, outperforms all baselines in a medium-scale RLHF-like IMDB mock sentiment task and leads to a more performant and more aligned technical QA chatbot with LLaMA-7B. Code available

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