TinyLLM: Learning a Small Student from Multiple Large Language Models


Transferring the reasoning capability from stronger large language models (LLMs) to smaller ones has been quite appealing, as smaller LLMs are more flexible to deploy with less expense. Among the existing solutions, knowledge distillation stands out due to its outstanding efficiency and generalization. However, existing methods suffer from several drawbacks, including limited knowledge diversity and the lack of rich contextual information. To solve the problems and facilitate the learning of compact language models, we propose MiniLLM, a novel knowledge distillation paradigm to learn a small student LLM from multiple large teacher LLMs. In particular, we encourage the student LLM to not only generate the correct answers but also understand the rationales behind these answers. Given that different LLMs possess diverse reasoning skills, we guide the student model to assimilate knowledge from various teacher LLMs. We further introduce an in-context example generator and a teacher-forcing Chain-of-Thought strategy to ensure that the rationales are accurate and grounded in contextually appropriate scenarios. Extensive experiments on six datasets across two reasoning tasks demonstrate the superiority of our method. Results show that MiniLLM can outperform large teacher LLMs significantly, despite having a considerably smaller model size.

Yikun Han
Yikun Han
First Year Master Student

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