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

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


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


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.