Take a Step Back: Evoking Reasoning via Abstraction in Large Language Models
We present Step-Back Prompting, a simple prompting technique that enables LLMs to do abstractions to derive high-level concepts and first principles from instances containing specific details. Using the concepts and principles to guide the reasoning steps, LLMs significantly improve their abilities in following a correct reasoning path towards the solution. We conduct experiments of Step-Back Prompting with PaLM-2L models and observe substantial performance gains on a wide range of challenging reasoning-intensive tasks including STEM, Knowledge QA, and Multi-Hop Reasoning. For instance, Step-Back Prompting improves PaLM-2L performance on MMLU Physics and Chemistry by 7% and 11%, TimeQA by 27%, and MuSiQue by 7%.