What is PaLM 2?

PaLM 2 is a next-generation large language model (LLM). Developed by Google, the model features improved coding, reasoning, and multi-lingual capabilities.

Understanding PaLM 2

PaLM 2 is Google’s latest attempt to assert itself in the AI industry and develop a viable alternative to OpenAI’s GPT-4. PaLM 2 – short for Pathways Language Model 2 – was announced by CEO Sundar Pichai at the Google I/O annual developer conference in May 2023. 

The model is available in four different sizes for a variety of use cases. The sizes, from smallest to largest, include Gecko, Otter, Bison, and Unicorn. Google notes in particular that “Gecko is so lightweight that it can work on mobile devices and is fast enough for great interactive applications on-device, even when offline.

PaLM 2 also underpins ChatGPT competitor Google Bard and can be fine-tuned into smaller LLMs to support more specialized AI tools. Current examples include the medical diagnostic tool Med-PaLM 2 and security threat detector Sec-PaLM, but the company notes that PaLM 2 already powers over 25 Google products and features.

Some of these include YouTube, Workspace, and Gmail apps such as Gmail and Google Docs. However, such is PaLM 2’s prevalence that most users already interact with the model on a daily basis without realizing it.

The three pillars of PaLM 2

PaLM 2’s improvements over predecessor PaLM are centered around three pillars:

  1. Reasoning – PaLM 2 was trained on a broader dataset that includes websites with mathematical expressions and various scientific journals. Consequently, the model displays superior logic, common sense reasoning, and mathematical capabilities.
  2. Coding – PaLM 2 was also pre-trained on numerous source code datasets. It excels at languages such as JavaScript and Python and, impressively, can generate or debug specialized code in Verilog, Fortran, and Prolog, among others.
  3. Multilinguality – PaLM 2 is trained on text from over 100 languages which have improved its ability to translate nuanced text such as poems, riddles, and idioms. In addition to solving this complex problem, the model is also able to pass language proficiency exams at a master level.

PaLM 2 training parameters

Google has not explicitly stated how many parameters it used to train PaLM 2, but does explain that it was trained on diverse sources that incorporated “web documents, books, code, mathematics, and conversational data.” 

Predecessor PaLM was trained on 540 billion parameters, and since PaLM 2 is smaller, faster, and more efficient, one can assume the improved version incorporates fewer parameters. 

In any case, the number of parameters used also depends on the size of the model. TechCrunch reports that “one of the more capable PaLM 2 modelswas trained on 14.7 billion parameters, while NLP researcher and coder Aman Sanger posited that the largest size (Unicorn) was likely to have been trained on closer to 100 billion parameters

Key takeaways:

  • PaLM 2 is a next-generation large language model (LLM). Developed by Google, the model features improved coding, reasoning, and multi-lingual capabilities.
  • PaLM 2 is available in four different sizes for a variety of use cases. These sizes, from smallest to largest, include Gecko, Otter, Bison, and Unicorn. PaLM 2 powers ChatGPT competitor Google Bard and can be fine-tuned into smaller LLMs to support more specialized AI tools.
  • Google has not explicitly stated how many parameters it used to train PaLM 2, but the smaller, faster, and more efficient successor to PaLM likely features around 15 billion parameters for smaller versions and 100 billion for the largest Unicorn size.

Key Highlights

  • Introduction to PaLM 2:
    • PaLM 2 stands for Pathways Language Model 2.
    • It is developed by Google and is a next-generation large language model (LLM).
    • PaLM 2 is designed with enhanced capabilities in coding, reasoning, and multilingual understanding.
  • PaLM 2’s Importance:
    • Google aims to establish PaLM 2 as a competitor to OpenAI’s GPT-4, asserting itself in the AI industry.
    • The model addresses the need for improved language understanding and generation across various applications.
  • PaLM 2 Versions:
    • PaLM 2 comes in four different sizes, each tailored for specific use cases: Gecko, Otter, Bison, and Unicorn.
    • The sizes range from lightweight and fast models suitable for mobile devices to larger, more capable models.
  • PaLM 2 Applications:
    • Google Bard, a competitor to ChatGPT, is built on the foundation of PaLM 2.
    • PaLM 2 can also be fine-tuned to create smaller specialized language models for specific AI tools.
    • It powers over 25 Google products and features, including YouTube, Workspace, Gmail, and more.
  • Three Pillars of Improvement:
    • Reasoning: PaLM 2’s training data includes scientific journals and mathematical expressions, leading to enhanced logic, reasoning, and mathematical capabilities.
    • Coding: PaLM 2 is pre-trained on source code datasets, excelling in languages like JavaScript and Python, and capable of generating and debugging specialized code.
    • Multilinguality: Trained on text from 100 languages, PaLM 2 improves translation of nuanced text, handles poems, riddles, idioms, and can achieve a high level of proficiency in multiple languages.
  • Training Parameters:
    • Google has not explicitly disclosed the number of parameters used to train PaLM 2.
    • It was trained on diverse sources including web documents, books, code, mathematics, and conversational data.
    • Smaller models likely have around 15 billion parameters, while larger models (like Unicorn) might have been trained on around 100 billion parameters.
  • Implications and Takeaways:
    • PaLM 2 represents Google’s advancement in language model technology.
    • It addresses the need for improved coding, reasoning, and multilingual capabilities.
    • Different model sizes cater to various use cases, and PaLM 2 powers multiple Google products.

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