Grammar Prompting for Domain-Specific Language Generation with Large Language Models

Bailin Wang · Zi Wang · Xuezhi Wang · Yuan Cao · Rif A. Saurous · Yoon Kim

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #329
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Tue 12 Dec 3:15 p.m. PST — 5:15 p.m. PST


Large language models (LLMs) can learn to perform a wide range of natural language tasks from just a handful of in-context examples. However, for generating strings from highly structured languages (e.g., semantic parsing to complex domain-specific languages), it is challenging for the LLM to generalize from just a few exemplars. We propose \emph{grammar prompting}, a simple approach to enable LLMs to use external knowledge and domain-specific constraints, expressed through a grammar in Backus--Naur Form (BNF), during in-context learning. Grammar prompting augments each demonstration example with a specialized grammar that is minimally sufficient for generating the particular output example, where the specialized grammar is a subset of the full DSL grammar. For inference, the LLM first predicts a BNF grammar given a test input, and then generates the output according to the rules of the grammar. Experiments demonstrate that grammar prompting can enable LLMs to perform competitively on a diverse set of DSL generation tasks, including semantic parsing (SMCalFlow, Overnight, GeoQuery), PDDL planning, and SMILES-based molecule generation.

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