LLM Fine Tuning with PEFT Techniques

guest_blog 21 Dec, 2023 • 8 min read


Large language models, or LLMs, have taken the world of natural language processing by storm. They are powerful AI systems designed to generate human-like text and comprehend and respond to natural language inputs. Essentially, they aim to mimic human language understanding and generation. Let’s embark on a journey to understand the intricacies of fine-tuning LLMs and explore the innovative PEFT (Parameter Efficient Fine Tuning) technique that’s transforming the field.

LLM Fine Tuning with PEFT Techniques | DataHour by Awadhesh Srivastava

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the concept of fine-tuning in language models.
  • Comprehend the PEFT technique and its significance.
  • Explore techniques for efficient coefficient selection.

Understanding the PEFT Technique

First, let’s decode the acronym – PEFT stands for Parameter Efficient Fine-Tuning. But what does parameter efficiency mean in this context, and why is it essential?

In machine learning, models are essentially complex mathematical equations with numerous coefficients or weights. These coefficients dictate how the model behaves and make it capable of learning from data. When we train a machine learning model, we adjust these coefficients to minimize errors and make accurate predictions. In the case of LLMs, which can have billions of parameters, changing all of them during training can be computationally expensive and memory-intensive.

This is where fine-tuning comes in. Fine-tuning is the process of tweaking a pre-trained model to adapt it to a specific task. It assumes that the model already possesses a fundamental understanding of language and focuses on making it excel in a particular area.

Training LLMs by Parameter Efficient Fine Tuning technique

PEFT, as a subset of fine-tuning, takes parameter efficiency seriously. Instead of altering all the coefficients of the model, PEFT selects a subset of them, significantly reducing the computational and memory requirements. This approach is particularly useful when training large models, like Falcon 7B, where efficiency is crucial.

Training, Fine-Tuning, and Prompt Engineering: Key Differences

Before diving deeper into PEFT, let’s clarify the distinctions between training, fine-tuning, and prompt engineering. These terms are often used interchangeably but have specific meanings in the context of LLMs.

  • Training: When a model is created from scratch, it undergoes training. This involves adjusting all the model’s coefficients or weights to learn patterns and relationships in data. It’s like teaching the model the fundamentals of language.
  • Fine-Tuning: Fine-tuning assumes the model already has a basic understanding of language (achieved through training). It involves making targeted adjustments to adapt the model to a specific task or domain. Think of it as refining a well-educated model for a particular job, such as answering questions or generating text.
  • Prompt Engineering: Prompt engineering involves crafting input prompts or questions that guide the LLM to provide desired outputs. It’s about tailoring the way you interact with the model to get the results you want.

PEFT plays a significant role in the fine-tuning phase, where we selectively modify the model’s coefficients to improve its performance on specific tasks.

Exploring LoRA and QLoRA for Coefficient Selection

Now, let’s dig into the heart of PEFT and understand how to select the subset of coefficients efficiently. Two techniques, LoRA (Low-Rank Adoption) and QLoRA (Quantization + LoRA), come into play for this purpose.

LoRA (Low-Rank Adoption): LoRA is a technique that recognizes that not all coefficients in a model are equally important. It exploits the fact that some weights have more significant impacts than others. In LoRA, the large weight matrix is divided into two smaller matrices by factorization. The ‘R’ factor determines how many coefficients are selected. By choosing a smaller ‘R,’ we reduce the number of coefficients that need adjustment, making the fine-tuning process more efficient.

Quantization: Quantization involves converting high-precision floating-point coefficients into lower-precision representations, such as 4-bit integers. While this introduces information loss, it significantly reduces memory requirements and computational complexity. When multiplied, these quantized coefficients are dequantized to mitigate the impact of error accumulation.

Imagine an LLM with 32-bit coefficients for every parameter. Now, consider the memory requirements when dealing with billions of parameters. Quantization offers a solution by reducing the precision of these coefficients. For instance, a 32-bit floating-point number can be represented as a 4-bit integer within a specific range. This conversion significantly shrinks the memory footprint.

However, there’s a trade-off; quantization introduces errors due to the information loss. To mitigate this, dequantization is applied when the coefficients are used in calculations. This balance between memory efficiency and computational accuracy is vital in large models like Falcon 7B.

The Process of Fine-Tuning with PEFT

Now, let’s shift our focus to the practical application of PEFT. Here are the steps involved in fine-tuning using PEFT:

  • Data Preparation: Begin by structuring your dataset in a way that suits your specific task. Define your inputs and desired outputs, especially when working with Falcon 7B.
  • Library Setup: Install necessary libraries like HuggingFace Transformers, Datasets, BitsandBytes, and WandB for monitoring training progress.
  • Model Selection: Choose the LLM model you want to fine-tune, like Falcon 7B.
  • PEFT Configuration: Configure PEFT parameters, including the selection of layers and the ‘R’ value in LoRA. These choices will determine the subset of coefficients you plan to modify.
  • Quantization: Decide on the level of quantization you want to apply, balancing memory efficiency with acceptable error rates.
  • Training Arguments: Define training arguments such as batch size, optimizer, learning rate scheduler, and checkpoints for your fine-tuning process.
  • Fine-Tuning: Use the HuggingFace Trainer with your PEFT configuration to fine-tune your LLM. Monitor training progress using libraries like WandB.
  • Validation: Keep an eye on both training and validation loss to ensure your model doesn’t overfit.
  • Checkpointing: Save checkpoints to resume training from specific points if needed.

Remember that fine-tuning an LLM, especially with PEFT, is a delicate balance between efficient parameter modification and maintaining model performance.

Language Models and Fine-Tuning are powerful tools in the field of natural language processing. The PEFT technique, coupled with parameter efficiency strategies like LoRA and Quantization, allows us to make the most of these models efficiently. With the right configuration and careful training, we can unlock the true potential of LLMs like Falcon 7B.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fine-Tuning with PEFT

Before we embark on our journey into the world of fine-tuning LLMs, let’s first ensure we have all the tools we need for the job. Here’s a quick rundown of the key components:

Supervised Fine-Tuning with HuggingFace Transformers

We’re going to work with HuggingFace Transformers, a fantastic library that makes fine-tuning LLMs a breeze. This library allows us to load pre-trained models, tokenize our data, and set up the fine-tuning process effortlessly.

Monitoring Training Progress with WandB

WandB, short for “Weights and Biases,” is a tool that helps us keep a close eye on our model’s training progress. With WandB, we can visualize training metrics, log checkpoints, and even track our model’s performance.

Evaluating Model Performance: Overfitting and Validation Loss

Overfitting is a common challenge when fine-tuning models. To combat this, we need to monitor validation loss alongside training loss. Validation loss helps us understand whether our model is learning from the training data or just memorizing it.

Now that we have our tools ready, let’s dive into the coding part!

Step 1: Setting Up the Environment

First, we need to set up our coding environment. We’ll install the necessary libraries, including HuggingFace Transformers, Datasets, BitsandBytes, and WandB.

PEFT setup | Parameter Efficient Fine Tuning
dataset for fine tuning the LLM

Step 2: Loading the Pre-Trained Model

In our case, we’re working with a Falcon 7B model, which is a massive LLM. We’ll load this pre-trained model using the Transformers library. Additionally, we’ll configure the model to use 4-bit quantization for memory efficiency.

loading the pre-trained model

Step 3: Choosing the Model Architecture

In this example, we’re using the AutoModelForCausalLM architecture, suitable for auto-regressive tasks. Depending on your specific use case, you might choose a different architecture.

Step 4: Tokenization

Before feeding text into our model, we must tokenize it. Tokenization converts text into numerical form, which is what machine learning models understand. HuggingFace Transformers provides us with the appropriate tokenizer for our chosen model.


Step 5: Fine-Tuning Configuration

Now, it’s time to configure our fine-tuning process. We’ll specify parameters such as batch size, gradient accumulation steps, and learning rate schedules.

Parameter Efficient Fine Tuning of an LLM

Step 6: Training the Model

We’re almost there! With all the setup in place, we can now use the Trainer from HuggingFace Transformers to train our model.

Training a large language model using Parameter Efficient Fine Tuning
Training arguments in PEFT technique

Step 7: Monitoring with WandB

As our model trains, we can use WandB to monitor its performance in real-time. WandB provides a dashboard where you can visualize training metrics, compare runs, and track your model’s progress.

To use WandB, sign up for an account, obtain an API key, and set it up in your code.

Now, you’re ready to log your training runs:

Monitoring with WandB

Step 8: Evaluating for Overfitting

Remember, overfitting is a common issue during fine-tuning. To detect it, you need to track both training loss and validation loss. If the training loss keeps decreasing while the validation loss starts increasing, it’s a sign of overfitting.

Evaluating the model for overfitting

Ensure you have a separate validation dataset and pass it to the Trainer to monitor validation loss.

Monitoring validation loss

That’s it! You’ve successfully set up your environment and coded the fine-tuning process for your LLM using the PEFT technique.

By following this step-by-step guide and monitoring your model’s performance, you’ll be well on your way to leveraging the power of LLMs for various natural language understanding tasks.


In this exploration of language models and fine-tuning, we’ve delved into the intricacies of harnessing the potential of LLMs through the innovative PEFT technique. This transformative approach allows us to efficiently adapt large models like Falcon 7B for specific tasks while balancing computational resources. By carefully configuring PEFT parameters, applying techniques like LoRA and Quantization, and monitoring training progress, we can unlock the true capabilities of LLMs and make significant strides in natural language processing.

Key Takeaways:

  • PEFT (Parameter Efficient Fine-Tuning) reduces computational and memory demands in large language models by making targeted coefficient adjustments.
  • LoRA (Low-Rank Adoption) selects vital coefficients, while quantization reduces memory usage by converting high-precision coefficients into lower-precision forms, both crucial in PEFT.
  • Fine-tuning LLMs with PEFT involves structured data preparation, library setup, model selection, PEFT configuration, quantization choices, and vigilant monitoring of training and validation loss to balance efficiency and model performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the significance of fine-tuning in language models?

Ans. Fine-tuning adapts a pre-trained language model to specific tasks, assuming it already possesses fundamental language understanding. It’s like refining a well-educated model for a particular job, such as answering questions or generating text.

Q2. How does quantization work in PEFT, and what trade-offs does it involve?

Ans. Quantization reduces memory usage by converting high-precision coefficients into lower-precision representations, like 4-bit integers. However, this process introduces information loss, which is mitigated through dequantization when coefficients are used in calculations.

Q3. What are the essential steps for fine-tuning with PEFT?

Ans. The key steps include data preparation, library setup (HuggingFace Transformers, Datasets, BitsandBytes, and WandB), model selection, PEFT parameter configuration, quantization choices, defining training arguments, actual fine-tuning, monitoring with WandB, and evaluation to prevent overfitting.

About the Author: Awadhesh Srivastava

Awadhesh is a dynamic computer vision and machine learning enthusiast and researcher, driven by a passion for exploring the vast realm of CV and ML at scale with AWS. With a Master of Technology (M.Tech.) degree in Computer Application from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, he brings a robust academic foundation to his professional journey.

Currently serving as a Senior Data Scientist at Kellton Tech Solutions Limited and having previously excelled in roles at AdGlobal360 and as an Assistant Professor at KIET Group of Institutions, Awadhesh’s commitment to innovation and his contributions to the field make him an invaluable asset to any organization seeking expertise in CV/ML projects.

DataHour Page: https://community.analyticsvidhya.com/c/datahour/datahour-llm-fine-tuning-with-peft-techniques

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/awadhesh-srivastava/

guest_blog 21 Dec 2023

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