Harnessing the Power of LLMs in Practice: A Survey on ChatGPT and Beyond

Harnessing the Power of LLMs in Practice: A Survey on ChatGPT and Beyond
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Original Paper
This paper presents a comprehensive and practical guide for practitioners and end-users working with Large Language Models (LLMs) in their downstream natural language processing (NLP) tasks. We provide discussions and insights into the usage of LLMs from the perspectives of models, data, and downstream tasks. Firstly, we offer an introduction and brief summary of current GPT- and BERT-style LLMs. Then, we discuss the influence of pre-training data, training data, and test data. Most importantly, we provide a detailed discussion about the use and non-use cases of large language models for various natural language processing tasks, such as knowledge-intensive tasks, traditional natural language understanding tasks, natural language generation tasks, emergent abilities, and considerations for specific tasks.We present various use cases and non-use cases to illustrate the practical applications and limitations of LLMs in real-world scenarios. We also try to understand the importance of data and the specific challenges associated with each NLP task. Furthermore, we explore the impact of spurious biases on LLMs and delve into other essential considerations, such as efficiency, cost, and latency, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of deploying LLMs in practice. This comprehensive guide aims to provide researchers and practitioners with valuable insights and best practices for working with LLMs, thereby enabling the successful implementation of these models in a wide range of NLP tasks. A curated list of practical guide resources of LLMs, regularly updated, can be found at \url{

Summary Notes

A Practical Guide to Using Large Language Models (LLMs) in NLP for AI Engineers

The field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) has been revolutionized by Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT and BERT, showcasing impressive text understanding and generation capabilities. These advancements hint at the potential for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). This guide aims to equip AI engineers in enterprise companies with the knowledge to effectively use LLMs for various NLP tasks, ensuring their efforts are both impactful and efficient.

LLM Landscape Overview

LLMs such as GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) and BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) have greatly pushed NLP forward. These models vary in their architecture:
  • Decoder-only Models: Leading in LLM development, with GPT-3 as a notable example, they are adept at generating text that's coherent and contextually appropriate.
  • Encoder-only Models: Initially popular with models like BERT, they are better at understanding text.
  • Encoder-decoder Models: Capable of both understanding and generating text, they are versatile for various NLP tasks.
The move towards closed-source models, especially with GPT-3, poses challenges for research and experimentation.

The Importance of Data

The success of LLMs heavily relies on data quality and quantity. Here's how to approach different data scenarios:
  • Abundant Annotated Data: Ideal for training and fine-tuning.
  • Few Annotated Data: Utilize few-shot learning for fine-tuning with limited data.
  • Zero Annotated Data: Some LLMs can perform tasks without any task-specific training through zero-shot learning.

Using LLMs for NLP Tasks

LLMs can be applied to a wide array of NLP tasks, such as text classification, sentiment analysis, machine translation, and content creation. Whether to use a pre-trained LLM as-is or fine-tune it for a specific task depends on the task's nature, available resources, and performance goals. A decision flowchart can guide the best approach.

Implementation Tips

  • Efficiency and Cost: Consider the balance between computational costs and the benefits of using LLMs, especially at scale.
  • Trustworthiness and Safety: Regularly monitor and adjust LLM outputs to ensure they are fair, unbiased, and safe.

Overcoming Challenges and Future Directions

Despite their potential, LLMs face challenges like data privacy concerns, model alignment, and ethical use. Future improvements will likely aim at enhancing their real-world utility, safety, and ability to produce more contextually accurate text.


LLMs are reshaping NLP, providing AI engineers with powerful tools for text analysis and generation. Maximizing their potential requires understanding their architecture, training data intricacies, and application challenges. With a strategic and ethical approach, AI engineers can navigate the exciting yet complex journey of leveraging LLMs in NLP and beyond.
Stay updated on LLM applications by visiting our GitHub repository for resources and readings on their practical uses.

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