Once “too scary” to release, GPT-2 gets squeezed into an Excel spreadsheet


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It looks as if AI massive language fashions (LLMs) are in every single place as of late as a result of rise of ChatGPT. Now, a software program developer named Ishan Anand has managed to cram a precursor to ChatGPT known as GPT-2—initially launched in 2019 after some trepidation from OpenAI—right into a working Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. It is freely available and is designed to teach folks about how LLMs work.

“By utilizing a spreadsheet anybody (even non-developers) can discover and play straight with how a ‘actual’ transformer works below the hood with minimal abstractions to get in the best way,” writes Anand on the official web site for the sheet, which he calls “Spreadsheets-are-all-you-need.” It is a nod to the 2017 analysis paper “Attention is All You Need” that first described the Transformer structure that has been foundational to how LLMs work.

Anand packed GPT-2 into an XLSB Microsoft Excel binary file format, and it requires the newest model of Excel to run (however will not work on the internet model). It is utterly native and would not do any API calls to cloud AI companies.

Regardless that the spreadsheet accommodates a whole AI language mannequin, you may’t chat with it like ChatGPT. As a substitute, customers enter phrases in different cells and see the predictive outcomes displayed in several cells virtually immediately. Recall that language fashions like GPT-2 had been designed to do next-token prediction, which implies they attempt to full an enter (known as a immediate, which is encoded into chunks known as tokens) with the most probably textual content. The prediction may very well be the continuation of a sentence or some other text-based process, reminiscent of software program code. Totally different sheets in Anand’s Excel file enable customers to get a way of what’s going on below the hood whereas these predictions are going down.

Spreadsheets-are-all-you-need solely helps 10 tokens of enter. That is tiny in comparison with the 128,000-token context window of GPT-4 Turbo, but it surely’s sufficient to display some primary rules of how LLMs work, which Anand has detailed in a collection of free tutorial movies he has uploaded to YouTube.

A video of Iman Anand demonstrating “Spreadsheets-are-all-you-need” in a YouTube tutorial.

In an interview with Ars Technica, Anand says he began the challenge so he might fulfill his personal curiosity and perceive the Transformer intimately. “Trendy AI is so completely different from the AI I realized after I was getting my CS diploma that I felt I wanted to return to the basics to actually have a psychological mannequin for the way it labored.”

He says he was initially going to re-create GPT-2 in JavaScript, however he loves spreadsheets—he calls himself “a spreadsheet addict.” He pulled inspiration from information scientist Jeremy Howard’s fast.ai and former OpenAI engineer Andrej Karpathy’s AI tutorials on YouTube.

“I walked away from Karpathy’s movies realizing GPT is generally only a massive computational graph (like a spreadsheet),” he says, “And [I] cherished how Jeremy usually makes use of spreadsheets in his course to make the fabric extra approachable. After watching these two, it out of the blue clicked that it could be doable to do the entire GPT-2 mannequin in a spreadsheet.”

We requested: Did he have any issue implementing a LLM in a spreadsheet? “The precise algorithm for GPT2 is generally numerous math operations which is ideal for a spreadsheet,” he says. “Actually, the toughest piece is the place the phrases are transformed into numbers (a course of known as tokenization) as a result of it is textual content processing and the one half that is not math. It might have been simpler to do this half in a conventional programming language than in a spreadsheet.”

When Anand wanted help, he naturally obtained somewhat assist from GPT-2’s descendant: “Notably ChatGPT itself was very useful within the course of in phrases serving to me remedy thorny points I might come throughout or understanding numerous levels of the algorithm, however it will additionally hallucinate so I needed to double-check it quite a bit.”

GPT-2 rides once more

This complete feat is feasible as a result of OpenAI released the neural community weights and supply code for GPT-2 in November 2019. It is notably attention-grabbing to see that exact mannequin baked into an academic spreadsheet as a result of when it was introduced in February 2019, OpenAI was afraid to release it—the corporate noticed the potential that GPT-2 could be “used to generate misleading, biased, or abusive language at scale.”

Nonetheless, the corporate launched the total GPT-2 mannequin (together with weights information wanted to run it regionally) in November 2019, however the firm’s subsequent main mannequin, GPT-3, which launched in 2020, has not obtained an open-weights launch. A variation of GPT-3 later shaped the premise for the preliminary model of ChatGPT, launched in 2022.

A video of Anand demonstrating “Spreadsheets-are-all-you-need” at AI Tinkerers Seattle, October 2023.

Anand’s spreadsheet implementation runs “GPT-2 Small,” which not like the total 1.5-billion-parameter model of GPT-2 clocks in at 124 million parameters. (Parameters are numerical values in AI fashions that retailer patterns realized from coaching information.) In comparison with the 175 billion parameters in GPT-3 (and even larger models), it most likely wouldn’t qualify as a “massive” language mannequin if launched right this moment. However in 2019, GPT-2 was thought of state-of-the-art.

You may obtain the GPT-2-infused spreadsheet on GitHub, although remember that it is about 1.2GB. Due to its complexity, Anand stated it will possibly steadily lock up or crash Excel, particularly on a Mac; he recommends working the sheet on Home windows. “It’s extremely advisable to make use of the handbook calculation mode in Excel and the Home windows model of Excel (both on a Home windows listing or by way of Parallels on a Mac),” he writes on his web site.

And earlier than you ask, Google Sheets is at the moment out of the query: “This challenge truly began on Google Sheets, however the full 124M mannequin was too massive and switched to Excel,” Anand writes. “I’m nonetheless exploring methods to make this work in Google Sheets, however it’s unlikely to suit right into a single file as it will possibly with Excel.”

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