Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track
Kevin Meng, David Bau, Alex Andonian, Yonatan Belinkov
We analyze the storage and recall of factual associations in autoregressive transformer language models, finding evidence that these associations correspond to localized, directly-editable computations. We first develop a causal intervention for identifying neuron activations that are decisive in a model's factual predictions. This reveals a distinct set of steps in middle-layer feed-forward modules that mediate factual predictions while processing subject tokens. To test our hypothesis that these computations correspond to factual association recall, we modify feed-forward weights to update specific factual associations using Rank-One Model Editing (ROME). We find that ROME is effective on a standard zero-shot relation extraction (zsRE) model-editing task, comparable to existing methods. To perform a more sensitive evaluation, we also evaluate ROME on a new dataset of counterfactual assertions, on which it simultaneously maintains both specificity and generalization, whereas other methods sacrifice one or another. Our results confirm an important role for mid-layer feed-forward modules in storing factual associations and suggest that direct manipulation of computational mechanisms may be a feasible approach for model editing. The code, dataset, visualizations, and an interactive demo notebook are available in the supplemental materials.