Prompt Engineering with Generative AI (20 Blogs)

Prompt Tuning: Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering its Techniques

Last updated on Jul 16,2024 18 Views

Experienced writer specializing in DevOps and Data Analysis. With a background in... Experienced writer specializing in DevOps and Data Analysis. With a background in technology and a passion for clear communication, I craft insightful content that...

The world of large language models is changing very fast. Staying ahead of the curve comes with staying updated. One of the techniques that has had huge attention nowadays is prompt tuning, a very powerful approach that can be used to improve the performance of the pre-trained models without incurring their traditional computational fine-tuning costs.

It introduces the basics of prompt tuning and elaborates on how it differs from fine-tuning and prompt engineering. 

What is Prompt Tuning?

For instance, prompt tuning is a method of optimizing pre-trained language models for better performance by adapting an extra set of parameters known as “soft prompts.” The soft prompts mean additional parameters added into the input processing by the model and hence change the way it understands any input prompts without having to learn all the weights from scratch.

Contrasted with fine-tuning, the retraining of the full model on a specific dataset, prompt tuning does not change the parameters of the pre-trained model. This would present a trade-off concerning better performance and efficiency of resources; then, it is very useful during cases of limited computational resources or flexibility across many tasks.

Prompt Tuning Method

The five steps in the algorithm for prompt tuning are as follows:

  • Identify the task: Be specific about what task or application you would want to get the best out of the model. Such as question answering, generating text, and handling sentiment analysis.
  • Prepare training data: Create a dataset representative of that task or application for which you wish to optimize your model. The dataset shall contain input prompts and the outputs one desires.
  • Define soft prompts: A set of trainable parameters is defined and added to the input processing of the model. The soft prompts are task-specific cues conditioning the model’s behavior.
  • Now train the soft prompts: Use the dataset prepared for teaching the soft prompts. But keep the weights from the pre-trained model frozen. This will ensure that the optimization of soft prompts will elicit the desired outputs from the model.
  • Evaluate and adjust: Test the model’s performance on the task at hand; based on the results, mix and adjust the soft prompts or training data to lend their floors to the most promising directions.


Fine Tuning VS Prompt Tuning VS Prompt Engineering

Three distinct ways exist to enhance the performance of LLMs such as prompt tuning, fine-tuning, and prompt engineering. One common thread is that they all tend to increase the model’s performance, but each has its characteristics and use cases. 

  • Fine-tune

Fine-tuning entails training the complete pre-trained model for a specific dataset and optimizes the model’s performance for that particular task at hand. It is resource-intensive and may cause overfitting but yields substantive improvements.

  • Prompt Engineering

It designs effective input prompts that can act as inputs to the model parameters to obtain the desired outputs. This needs an intense understanding of the model’s capabilities and uses intrinsic knowledge inside the model. No training or retraining of the model is required in prompt engineering. 

  • Prompt Tuning

On the other hand, prompt tuning balances these models. It modulates a small set of trainable parameters—the soft prompts—without touching the weights of the pre-trained model. This framework offers all the same advantages as fine-tuning but in a much more efficient and flexible way to optimize model performance concerning specific tasks.

Advantages of Prompt Tuning

Of course, prompt tuning has several advantages that have made this technique of paramount importance in optimizing LLMs:

  • Resource Efficiency: Keeping the parameters of the pre-trained model unchanged reduces, to a large extent, the computational power required by prompt tuning. Due to keeping all the pre-trained model parameters unchanged for prompt tuning, prompt tuning considerably reduces the computational power required. Therefore, in resource-constrained environments, prompt tuning becomes especially useful. 
  • Fast Deployment: Since prompt tuning only requires changes to the soft prompt parameters of the module, it allows for more rapid changes between different tasks and reduces idle time.
  • Task Flexibility: Prompt tuning enables applying a single foundational model to many tasks by simply changing the soft prompts, diminishing the necessity of many different models and increasing scalability.
  • Model Integrity and Knowledge Retention: It retains the core architecture and weights of the pre-trained model intact, thus preserving modeling capabilities and knowledge developed for creating a more generalizable and reliable model. 
  • Less Human Intervention: Prompt tuning is much less intervention-heavy in humans than prompt engineering. Since soft prompts are optimized automatically, this minimizes space for potential human mistakes.
  • Comparable Performance: Many publications have shown that prompt tuning typically attains—especially for large models—fully competitive performance levels to fine-tuning alone and becomes increasingly more appealing as model sizes increase.

Step-By-Step Approach to Prompt Tuning

For prompt tuning, the following steps need to be taken:

  • Identify the task: Clearly define what specific task or application you want to optimize the model for question answering, text generation, or even sentiment analysis.
  • Prepare the dataset: One should have a representative dataset of input prompts and desired outputs relevant to the task.
  • Define the soft prompts: A set of parameters called soft prompts will be added to the input processing within the model.
  • Train the Soft Prompts: Take the prepared dataset to train the soft prompts; the weights of the pre-trained model are not touched. This is the optimization of the soft prompts to activate the optimal output response from the model in the best possible manner.
  • Evaluate and Refine: Check the performance of the transferred model on this task; if something has gone wrong, refine the soft prompts or even the training data for better results.
  • Deploy the Optimized Model: Integrate the optimized model into your application or service, elevating improved performance to your use case after completing the prompt tuning process. 

Emerging applications for prompt-tuning

New applications of prompt tuning Obviously, with large language models becoming steadily more powerful, scenarios where prompt tuning is a useful approach are rapidly proliferating. Some new use cases include:

  • Personalized Assistants: Prompt tuning enables the digitized assistant to fine-tune its behavior and responses to further make it tailored for the needs of each particular end-user. 
  • Domain-specific models: Prompt tuning example on a foundational model may empower an organization to create customized models for domains ranging from legal and medical to financial domains, amongst others. 
  • Multilingual Support: Added to these benefits is one more fact; prompt tuning will render LLMs more effective across multiple languages, hence extending reach and accessibility.
  • Visual Prompt Tuning: Researchers try to apply PROMPT TUNING into more multimodal tasks. Such as generating images or videos from textual prompts.
  • Reinforcement Learning: Combinations of the former with a reinforcement learning scheme can then further optimize the model behavior and decisions.


In the dynamic landscape of large language models. Prompt tuning has recently emerged as one of the most powerful techniques. For boosting performance improvement on pre-trained models without the computational resources needed for traditional fine-tuning. This would also flexibly provide resource efficiency with task flexibility. By adjusting a set of trainable soft prompts, making the tool rather prolific in applications.

As AI further develops in the field, applications of prompt tuning will rise and enable organizations to create increasingly specialized, personalized, and versatile models to suit their needs. Mastering prompt tuning can help you stay at the very forefront of this curve and realize the fullest potential large language models have in store for projects. 

Are you ready to master the art of prompt engineering and transform the way you interact with AI? Our comprehensive Prompt Engineering Course is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to excel in this rapidly evolving field.


  1. What’s the difference between fine-tuning and prompt tuning?

A key difference between fine-tuning and prompt tuning is in the approach to optimizing the model. One can further train a portion of the pre-trained model by fine-tuning it to work better on the target dataset. In this process, one adjusts the weights based on the performance measure to optimize the model for the task. That said, once one adds a set of trainable parameters to the model. Often referred to as soft prompts—prompt tuning does not alter the weights in the pre-trained model. This makes prompt tuning more efficient and flexible regarding resource fine-tuning.

2. What is prompt tuning in Google? 

One of the methods that can be applied to large language models, including even those models built by Google. It would be prompted tuning. Google has been one of the active researchers and explorers of prompt tuning to better. Its language models for diverse applications such as LaMDA and PaLM. While the implementation details may vary, prompt tuning principles remain the same for the works done at Google and other leading AI research organizations, as described in the paper.

3. What is visual prompt tuning?

Visual prompt tuning is a fast-growing research area that uses techniques for prompt tuning multimodal tasks. where researchers generate images or videos conditioned by a textual prompt. Therefore, under such a line of approach, researchers design this language prompt. Not only to guide the language model but also to affect the generation of visual outputs. Researchers can create much more powerful and versatile multimodal AI by combining prompt tuning with visual understanding and generation capabilities.


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