Towards Concept-Aware Large Language Models

Chen Shani, Jilles Vreeken, Dafna Shahaf

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Concepts play a pivotal role in various human cognitive functions, including learning, reasoning and communication. However, there is very little work on endowing machines with the ability to form and reason with concepts. In particular, state-of-the-art large language models (LLMs) work at the level of tokens, not concepts. In this work, we analyze how well contemporary LLMs capture human concepts and their structure. We then discuss ways to develop concept-aware LLMs, taking place at different stages of the pipeline. We sketch a method for pretraining LLMs using concepts, and also explore the simpler approach that uses the output of existing LLMs. Despite its simplicity, our proof-of-concept is shown to better match human intuition, as well as improve the robustness of predictions. These preliminary results underscore the promise of concept-aware LLMs.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationFindings of the Association for Computational Linguistics
Subtitle of host publicationEMNLP 2023
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9798891760615
StatePublished - 2023
Event2023 Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 6 Dec 202310 Dec 2023

Publication series

NameFindings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023


Conference2023 Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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