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Demystifying the Role of Feedback in GPT Self-Repair for Code Generation
Theo X. Olausson · Jeevana Priya Inala · Chenglong Wang · Jianfeng Gao · Armando Solar-Lezama
Event URL: https://openreview.net/forum?id=OFcp6VKzdY »

Large Language Models (LLMs) have shown remarkable aptitude in generating code from natural language specifications, but still struggle on challenging programming tasks. Self-repair---in which the user provides executable unit tests and the model uses these to debug and fix mistakes in its own code---may improve performance in these settings without significantly altering the way in which programmers interface with the system. However, existing studies on how and when self-repair works effectively have been limited in scope, and one might wonder how self-repair compares to keeping a software engineer in the loop to give feedback on the code model's outputs. In this paper, we analyze GPT-3.5 and GPT-4's ability to perform self-repair on APPS, a challenging dataset consisting of diverse coding challenges. We find that when the cost of generating both feedback and repaired code is taken into account, performance gains from self-repair are marginal and can only be seen with GPT-4. In contrast, when human programmers are used to provide feedback, the success rate of repair increases by as much as 57%. These findings suggest that self-repair still trails far behind what can be achieved with a feedback-giving human kept closely in the loop.

Author Information

Theo X. Olausson (MIT)
Jeevana Priya Inala (MIT)
Chenglong Wang (Microsoft)
Jianfeng Gao (Microsoft Research AI)
Jianfeng Gao

Jianfeng Gao is Partner Research Manager at Microsoft Research AI. He leads the development of AI systems for machine reading comprehension (MRC), question answering (QA), social bots, goal-oriented dialogue, and business applications. From 2014 to 2017, he was Partner Research Manager at Deep Learning Technology Center at Microsoft Research, Redmond, where he was leading the research on deep learning for text and image processing. From 2006 to 2014, he was Principal Researcher at Natural Language Processing Group at Microsoft Research, Redmond, where he worked on Web search, query understanding and reformulation, ads prediction, and statistical machine translation. From 2005 to 2006, he was a Research Lead in Natural Interactive Services Division at Microsoft, where he worked on Project X, an effort of developing natural user interface for Windows. From 2000 to 2005, he was Research Lead in Natural Language Computing Group at Microsoft Research Asia, where he and his colleagues developed the first Chinese speech recognition system released with Microsoft Office, the Chinese/Japanese Input Method Editors (IME) which were the leading products in the market, and the natural language platform for Microsoft Windows.

Armando Solar-Lezama (MIT)

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