Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, are gaining popularity for their human-imitating abilities. These models can perform tasks like question answering, text summarization, content generation, and language translation. However, there has been a debate about whether these models truly understand the underlying mechanisms of the data they are trained on.
One theory suggests that LLMs are good at identifying patterns and correlations in data but may lack comprehension of the generative processes. They function more as statistical engines rather than actually understanding the data. On the other hand, another theory argues that LLMs learn correlations and develop coherent models of the generative processes.
To shed light on this, researchers from MIT conducted a study on LLMs to understand how they learn. They used probing tests with Llama-2 models and created datasets covering different spatiotemporal scales. These datasets contained names of places, events, and related space or time coordinates. The researchers used linear regression probes on the internal activations of the LLMs’ layers to investigate whether LLMs create representations of space and time. The probes predicted the actual position or time in the real world corresponding to each dataset name.
The research showed that LLMs indeed learn linear representations of both space and time at different scales. This indicates that these models understand spatial and temporal aspects in a structured way, rather than just memorizing data. Additionally, the representations were found to be resilient to changes in instructions or prompts, suggesting that the models have a solid understanding and representation of spatial and temporal information.
Furthermore, the researchers found that LLMs represent various entities uniformly in terms of space and time, including cities, landmarks, historical individuals, pieces of art, and news headlines. They even identified specific LLM neurons as ‘space neurons’ and ‘time neurons’ that accurately express spatial and temporal coordinates. This indicates the presence of specialized components in the models that process and represent space and time.
In conclusion, the study reaffirms that LLMs go beyond statistical memorization and actually learn structured information about space and time. These models have the ability to represent the underlying structure of the data-generating processes they are trained on.
To read the full paper, click [here](https://arxiv.org/abs/2310.02207).
If you’re interested in AI research news and projects, don’t forget to join our ML SubReddit, Facebook community, Discord channel, and subscribe to our email newsletter.