SPARSEFIT: Few-shot Prompting with Sparse Fine-tuning for Jointly Generating Predictions and Natural Language Explanations

Jesus Solano, Oana-Maria Camburu, Pasquale Minervini

Explaining the decisions of neural models is crucial for ensuring their trustworthiness at deployment time. Using Natural Language Explanations (NLEs) to justify a model's predictions has recently gained increasing interest. However, this approach usually demands large datasets of human-written NLEs for the ground-truth answers, which are expensive and potentially infeasible for some applications. For models to generate high-quality NLEs when only a few NLEs are available, the fine-tuning of Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs) in conjunction with prompt-based learning recently emerged. However, PLMs typically have billions of parameters, making fine-tuning expensive. We propose SparseFit, a sparse few-shot fine-tuning strategy that leverages discrete prompts to jointly generate predictions and NLEs. We experiment with SparseFit on the T5 model and four datasets and compare it against state-of-the-art parameter-efficient fine-tuning techniques. We perform automatic and human evaluations to assess the quality of the model-generated NLEs, finding that fine-tuning only 6.8% of the model parameters leads to competitive results for both the task performance and the quality of the NLEs.

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