What is Zero-shot prompting and One-shot prompting?

  • 10 August 2023
  • 4 replies

Userlevel 5
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I believe many of us have embarked on the journey of exploring Prompt Engineering.

Would anyone be willing to elaborate on the concepts of Zero-shot prompting and One-shot prompting, with an example?

4 replies

Userlevel 3
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Certainly! Zero-shot and one-shot prompting are techniques used in the context of natural language processing, particularly in the field of machine learning and text generation. They both involve generating text or responses from a model without explicitly training it on specific examples. Let's delve into each concept and provide an example for better understanding.

  1. Zero-shot Prompting: Zero-shot prompting involves using a pre-trained language model to generate text in response to a task or query that it hasn't been specifically trained on. The model relies on its general language understanding and the patterns it has learned during its training to produce relevant output. It's like asking the model to perform a task it hasn't seen before, using only the information it has learned from a diverse range of sources.

Example: Let's say you have a pre-trained language model like GPT-3.5, and you want to use it for language translation without any fine-tuning or additional training. You can provide the model with a zero-shot prompt like this:

Prompt: "Translate the following English text to French: 'Hello, how are you?'"

Even though the model hasn't been specifically trained on this translation task, it understands the structure and semantics of languages and can generate a reasonable translation in French:

Generated Response: "Bonjour, comment ça va ?"

Here, the model is zero-shot because it's performing a translation task without being explicitly trained on translation data. It relies on its broad understanding of language to generate the translation.

  1. One-shot Prompting: One-shot prompting takes the concept of zero-shot a step further. Instead of asking the model to perform a task it hasn't been trained on at all, you provide the model with a single example of the task you want it to perform. The model then uses this single example to extrapolate and generate text accordingly.

Example: Let's consider a language model that has never been trained to generate recipes. With one-shot prompting, you provide the model with a single example recipe:

Prompt: "Generate a recipe for chocolate chip cookies."

Example Recipe: "Ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, chocolate chips. Instructions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix butter and sugar..."

Even though the model hasn't seen this specific example during training, it can use the structure of the provided example to generate a new recipe:

Generated Recipe: "Ingredients: margarine, brown sugar, egg substitute, all-purpose gluten-free flour, dairy-free chocolate chips. Instructions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream margarine and brown sugar..."

In this case, the model uses the one-shot example to understand the desired output format and generate a new recipe based on that understanding.

Both zero-shot and one-shot prompting leverage the general language knowledge of pre-trained models to perform tasks they haven't been explicitly trained on. Zero-shot relies solely on the model's overall language understanding, while one-shot provides a single example to guide the model's output.

Userlevel 5
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@Chandrasekhar 7496 Good one, thanks for sharing. Curious to know which LLM did you use to generate this response.

Userlevel 3
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@arjun.meda ChatGPT-3.5

Userlevel 5
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@Chandrasekhar 7496 Nice!