Narrative XL: A Large-scale Dataset For Long-Term Memory Models

Arseny Moskvichev, Ky-Vinh Mai

Despite their tremendous successes, most large language models do not have any long-term memory mechanisms, which restricts their applications. Overcoming this limitation would not only require changes to the typical transformer architectures or training procedures, but also a dataset on which these new models could be trained and evaluated. We argue that existing resources lack a few key properties, and that at present, there are no naturalistic datasets of sufficient scale to train (and not only evaluate) long-term memory language models. We then present our solution that capitalizes on the advances in short-term memory language models to create such a dataset. Using GPT 3.5, we summarized each scene in 1500 hand-curated books from Project Gutenberg, which resulted in approximately 150 scene-level summaries per book. We then created a number of reading comprehension questions based on these summaries, including three types of multiple-choice scene recognition questions, as well as free-form narrative reconstruction questions. Each book is thus associated with more than 500 reading comprehension questions. Crucially, most questions have a known ``retention demand'', indicating how long-term of a memory is needed to answer it, which should aid long-term memory performance evaluation. We validate our data in three small-scale experiments: one with human labelers, and two with existing language models. We show that our questions 1) adequately represent the source material 2) can be used to diagnose the model's memory capacity 3) are not trivial for modern language models even when the memory demand does not exceed those models' context lengths. Lastly, we provide our code which can be used to further expand the dataset in an automated manner.

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