The Complete Guide to Prompt Engineering

Sam Naji, Joseph Tekriti
June 12, 2023
20 minute read
Table of Contents

Prompt Engineering can be compared to the process of designing a road trip. Like how you plan your trip by mapping out your route, selecting your stops, and anticipating any potential roadblocks, prompt engineering involves carefully crafting a question or Prompt that will guide a large language model to produce the desired response. Think of the Prompt as the roadmap that leads the model toward the destination of the perfect answer. It's essential to select suitable landmarks (keywords) and have a clear destination in mind (desired response), as this will ensure that the model stays on track and gets noticed in the vast language landscape. The power of prompt engineering lies in creating prompts that can guide the AI to produce a specific output. With the right Prompt, the possibilities are endless, and the results can be remarkable. So, whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-time adventurer, the world of prompt engineering awaits you to explore and discover its endless possibilities.


Prompt Engineering is creating effective prompts for Large Language Models (LLMs) to generate high-quality responses. A prompt is a carefully crafted input or instruction provided to an AI system to guide its behavior and generate desired outputs. It serves as the starting point or query for the system, providing context and specific instructions on what the system is expected to do or respond to. A prompt can take various forms, including textual queries, descriptions, or examples, and its content, structure, and wording play a crucial role in eliciting the desired response from the AI model. Prompt engineering aims to help users create specific, clear, concise prompts to get the desired output from the LLMs. An effective prompt is the key to getting the desired response from an LLM. It is like asking a question to a person, where the question's quality determines the answer's quality. For instance, let's say you want to generate a pizza recipe. An effective prompt for this task would be, "Please generate a recipe for a pepperoni pizza with a thin crust." This Prompt is specific, clear, and concise. A poorly constructed prompt would be, "Can you generate a pizza recipe for me?" This Prompt needs to be more specific, and the model may generate recipes for different types of pizzas with different toppings and crusts.

Pillars of Prompt Engineering

Effective, prompt engineering is essential to get the desired output from the LLM. With suitable prompts, the LLM can generate high-quality responses that match the user's expectations. With poor prompts, the LLM may generate irrelevant or poor-quality responses that do not meet the user's needs. Therefore, prompt engineering is critical in using Large Language Models to their full potential. By the end of this guide, you'll be able to create powerful prompts that elicit accurate and meaningful responses from large language models, and you'll be equipped with the knowledge to navigate the complex landscape of prompt engineering with confidence.

Some Misconceptions about Prompt Engineering

  • All prompt engineers do is type words- This suggests that prompt engineering is simply typing words without much thought or strategy involved. People may have this misconception because they perceive prompt engineering as a simple process that merely involves generating text without considering its impact on AI systems. In reality, prompt engineering goes beyond just typing words. It involves careful consideration of the desired outcome, understanding the capabilities and limitations of the AI model, optimizing the Prompt to elicit the desired response, and iterating based on feedback and performance analysis.
  • Prompt engineering can be learned overnight- People assume that acquiring the skills and knowledge of prompt engineering is quick and effortless. They underestimate the complexity and depth of prompt engineering, assuming that it can be mastered without much time and effort. Prompt engineering requires time, practice, and continuous learning. It involves understanding various AI models, system nuances, prompt optimization techniques, and staying updated with the latest advancements in the field. Mastery of prompt engineering is a gradual and ongoing process.
  • Prompt engineering only applies to text-based AI systems- prompt engineering is relevant only for AI systems that process and generate text. People at start generally associate prompt engineering primarily with natural language processing tasks, such as chatbots or translation. Prompt engineering applies to various AI systems beyond text-based applications. It encompasses visual prompts for image recognition, auditory prompts for speech recognition, and even multimodal prompts that combine different modalities to enhance AI system performance.
  • There is a single "best" approach to prompt engineering- People think a universal, foolproof method or technique guarantees optimal prompt engineering outcomes in all scenarios. They seek a definitive solution or shortcut that simplifies the prompt engineering process. Prompt engineering is a nuanced and context-dependent discipline. The approach to prompt engineering varies based on the specific AI system, task, data, and objectives. Finding the most effective approach for a particular scenario requires flexibility, experimentation, and iterative refinement.
  • A good prompt will work perfectly across all AI systems- A well-designed prompt will yield optimal results across all types of AI systems without any adjustments. People assume the same prompt design principles apply universally, irrespective of the underlying AI model or system architecture. Different AI systems and models have unique characteristics, biases, and requirements. Prompt engineering involves tailoring prompts to the target AI system, considering its strengths, weaknesses, and specific prompt format recommendations to achieve optimal performance.
  • Prompt engineering is solely about generating creative Prompt- This misconception implies that prompt engineering primarily focuses on generating imaginative or artistic prompts. People associate prompt engineering with the idea of crafting compelling and attention-grabbing prompts. While creativity can be a valuable aspect of prompt engineering, it is not the sole objective. Prompt engineering aims to design prompts that effectively guide AI systems to produce accurate, reliable, and contextually appropriate responses. It involves strategic framing, clear instructions, and careful consideration of the desired outcome rather than merely focusing on creative expression.

Prompt engineering is not a viable career path- prompt engineering is not a specialized field or profession with long-term career prospects. People may have this misconception because prompt engineering is a relatively new discipline, and its importance and potential career opportunities may not be widely recognized. The reality is that prompt engineering is an emerging and increasingly vital field in the AI industry. As AI systems become more sophisticated and pervasive, the demand for skilled prompt engineers is expected to grow. There are opportunities for prompt engineers in various domains, including research, development, consulting, and optimizing AI systems for specific applications. A career in prompt engineering offers the chance to shape the performance and capabilities of AI systems and contribute to advancing AI technology. 'San Francisco-based AI startup Anthropic is hiring a Prompt Engineer and a Librarian with a salary of up to USD 335,000 per year'; this is one real-life example of whether you can choose prompt engineering as a career.

Introduction to Large Language Models (LLM)

Have you ever been amazed by how accurately your virtual assistant responds to your voice commands or how well your chatbot can converse? Well, those are all thanks to Large Language Models (LLMs). LLMs are computer systems trained on a massive amount of data and can generate text based on a given prompt. These models can understand and generate human-like text, making them a potent tool for language-based applications. Regarding Prompt Engineering, Large Language Models are the critical component. Prompt Engineering involves crafting high-quality prompts that can elicit the desired response from a Large Language Model. The quality of the Prompt significantly affects the output of the model. Therefore, understanding Large Language Models' capabilities and limitations can help engineers design better prompts and achieve better results. Knowing about Large Language Models will also help engineers understand the parameters and hyperparameters used in training and fine-tuning the models. This knowledge will enable engineers to optimize the prompt design and generate better outputs. Moreover, prompt engineers can leverage the features and capabilities of Large Language Models to achieve the desired results. Knowing about Large Language Models can help prompt engineers to design better prompts and achieve better results. Therefore, learning about Large Language Models is a plus when learning about Prompt Engineering. So you can access our guide for beginners on Large Language Models <linked>, which is recommended but optional to understand this guide.

  • Base LLM: Base Large Language Models (LLMs) are trained on vast amounts of text data and can predict the next word or sequence of words in a sentence based on the patterns learned from the training data. For example, given the prompt "I want to eat a slice of", a base LLM may predict the next word to be "pizza" based on its training on common language patterns. Another example is, given the prompt "The cat in the", a base LLM may predict the next word as "hat" based on its training on popular children's books.
  • Instruction-Tuned LLM: Instruction-tuned LLMs are trained to follow specific instructions in the Prompt to generate the desired output. For example, given the prompt "Find all the words that start with 'a' in this sentence: 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'", an instruction-tuned LLM would generate the output "apple, away". Another example is, given the prompt "Translate the following sentence into Spanish: 'I love to play basketball'", an instruction tuned LLM would generate the output "Me encanta jugar al baloncesto", the Spanish translation for the given sentence.

Principles of Prompt Engineering

Even though a few of these 'improper prompts' might generate the correct output by the model, they will only work sometimes, and therefore it's not considered a good practice. The types of prompts you practice will create your habits. By applying these principles of prompt engineering, you can effectively guide the model's behavior and enhance the quality and relevance of the generated responses. By adhering to these principles, users can optimize their prompt engineering process, maximizing the potential of large language models and improving the overall user experience. These principles provide a solid foundation for creating clear, specific prompts aligned with the desired goals, ultimately leading to more satisfactory and reliable outcomes.

Generate a good prompt without remembering the principles

'There are too many principles to remember, and even if I learn them all, I might not create prompts following all the principles every time'. This was my initial thought, and the solution I came up with is simple. When creating a prompt, always have this simple thought in your mind 'The model is a child who has memorized every text/knowledge available online but does not know how to use that information, and your prompt is the only way it knows to how to process the information' so every time you create a prompt imagine you are giving instructions or commands to a 'child with every knowledge' and answer the 5W's & 1H as shown below. This simple method will help you generate good prompts most of the time.

Checklist for a good prompt
  • Who – Who do you want to ask your query? If your query is about maths, you would want the model to be an expert in maths or a mathematician, so you will ask the model to act as a mathematician and then follow up with your query in maths.
  • What- What is your query? What do you want the model to do? Solve an equation or create a graph of a function? It helps define the specific problem or request, allowing the model to generate a more accurate and relevant response. For instance, a prompt asking for recommendations for books on artificial intelligence can specify the desired outcome by adding "that provide practical examples for beginners."
  • When- Duration of your task or can also refer to the timeframe for the query. For instance, you want to create a schedule for learning Python in a month. So the model will create the schedule according to your duration, which is a month. While a prompt asking about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy can be refined by specifying "in the last two years" to focus on recent effects.
  • Where- Where should the model look at? It refers to the context the model should use to generate the response. It ensures the generated response is relevant to a specific place or situation. It helps in generating location-specific information or recommendations. For example, a prompt asking for tourist attractions in Paris can be improved by specifying "within a 10-kilometer radius of the Eiffel Tower."  
  • Why- Why do you want the model to do the task? Explaining the purpose or motivation behind the Prompt can help the model understand the intention and generate a response accordingly. For instance, a prompt asking for the benefits of regular exercise can be enhanced by adding "to improve cardiovascular health and overall fitness."
  • How- Describing the approach, steps, or methods to be followed in the Prompt provides specific instructions and guides the model in generating the response. It ensures the Prompt is actionable and provides the desired information or solution. For example, a prompt asking for a recipe for chocolate chip cookies can be improved by adding "including the ingredients, mixing instructions, and baking temperature and time."

By answering these questions and incorporating the relevant information into the Prompt, you can create well-defined, specific, and actionable prompts that effectively communicate their information needs to the large language model. Remember while answering these questions that your model is a child with all the knowledge but does not know how to use it.

Types of Prompts

  1. Summarizing Prompt - A type of Prompt that requires a summary of a given text or information. Summarizing prompts often condense lengthy documents or articles into a brief, easy-to-digest form. They are helpful for quickly conveying important information without overwhelming the reader. When to use this type: Summarizing prompts are commonly used in news articles, academic papers, and business reports.  
    Prompt: Please summarize the main points of this article on renewable energy <article provided>.
    Response: The article discusses the growth of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower and the challenges associated with integrating them into existing energy infrastructure.
  2. Inferring Prompt: A type of Prompt requires the model to draw conclusions based on given information. Inferring prompts are helpful for tasks that require reasoning and critical thinking, such as analyzing data or making predictions. When to use this Prompt: Inferring prompts are often used in scientific research, financial analysis, and marketing strategy development.
    Prompt: Based on the data provided, what is the expected revenue for next quarter <data provided>?
    Response: Based on the upward trend in sales over the past few quarters, the revenue for the next quarter is expected to increase by at least 10%.
  3. Transforming Prompt - A prompt requiring the model to modify or transform given text or information. Transforming prompts are helpful for language translation, paraphrasing, and text generation tasks. When to use this Prompt: Transforming prompts are commonly used in language-based tasks such as chatbot development, content creation, and language learning.
    Prompt: Rewrite this sentence in the passive voice <sentence provided>.
    Response: The active sentence "The cat chased the mouse" can be rewritten in the passive voice as "The cat chased the mouse."
  4. Expanding Prompt - Expanding prompts provide additional information to the user to help them better understand the context of the Prompt. These prompts are often used in natural language processing systems that aim to provide a more comprehensive answer to a user's query. Expanding prompts can provide additional context, definitions, or examples. Expanding prompts are helpful when providing more detailed information to the user is necessary, such as in natural language processing systems or search engines.  
    Prompt: "What is the capital of France?"
    Response: "The capital of France is Paris. It is a city in northern France, located on the Seine River and known for its museums, monuments, and historical landmarks."
  5. Information Prompt - Information prompts are designed to elicit specific information from the user. These prompts are often used in data collection applications, such as surveys or questionnaires. Information prompts ask for specific details, such as name, address, or phone number. Information prompts are used when specific information needs to be collected from a user, such as in data collection applications.  
    Prompt: "What is your email address?"
    Response: "My email address is"
  6. Context Prompt - Context prompts are designed to provide additional context to the user. These prompts are often used in natural language processing systems that aim to provide a more comprehensive answer to a user's query. Context prompts can provide additional information about the user's query, such as location or time. Prompts are helpful when providing more detailed information about a user's query is necessary, such as in natural language processing systems or search engines.  
    Prompt: "What is the weather like today?"
    Response: "The weather today in New York City is sunny with a high of 72 degrees Fahrenheit."
  7. Keyword-based Prompt - This type of Prompt is designed to include specific keywords or phrases the user seeks in the generated output. These prompts are generally used to retrieve specific information from a large dataset. For instance, a keyword-based prompt may be used in a search engine to find relevant web pages based on the input keywords. Keyword-based prompts are suitable when finding specific information from a large dataset or retrieving particular data points based on specific keywords.  
    Prompt: Generate a list of restaurants in New York City that serve vegan food.
    Response: "Vegan restaurants in New York City:
    'Avant Garden'
    'Buddha Bodai'
    'Franchia Vegan Café'
  8. Comparison Prompt - Comparison prompts are designed to compare two or more objects or concepts based on specific criteria. The criteria include price, quality, performance, or features. Comparison prompts are frequently used in e-commerce or product review websites where consumers want to make decisions based on comparisons. Comparison prompts are suitable when comparing two or more objects or concepts based on specific criteria.
    Prompt: Compare the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 based on their camera quality.
    Response: "The iPhone 12 features a dual-camera system, including 12MP ultra-wide and 12MP wide lenses. The Samsung Galaxy S21 features a triple-camera system, including a 12MP ultra-wide lens, a 12MP wide lens, and a 64MP telephoto lens. Both phones have similar camera features like night mode, portrait mode, and 4K video recording."
  9. Closed Prompt - A closed prompt is a type of Prompt that expects a specific answer or a set of predefined answers. These prompts are frequently used in surveys or quizzes, where the possible responses are limited. Closed prompts are suitable when you need a specific or limited set of responses.
    Prompt: What is the capital of France?
    Response: "Paris."
  10. Role-based Prompt - Role-based prompts are designed to generate output based on a specific role or perspective. For instance, a role-based prompt can generate a news article summary from the perspective of a journalist, reader, or politician. Role-based prompts are suitable when generating output from a specific perspective or role.
    Prompt: Generate a summary of a news article from the perspective of a journalist <article provided>.
    Response: "In an exclusive interview with CNN, the President of the United States expressed his concerns over the ongoing trade war with China and his plans to resolve the issue."
  11. Opinion-seeking Prompt - Opinion-seeking prompts are designed to generate output based on opinions or sentiments. These prompts can be used in sentiment or customer feedback analysis to identify positive or negative feedback. Opinion-seeking prompts are suitable when generating output based on opinions or sentiments.
    Prompt: Analyze the customer feedback for a new restaurant opening in the city <feedback provided>.
    Response: "Based on the customer feedback, the new restaurant has received a positive response, with customers praising the food quality and service. However, some customers have expressed concerns over the high prices and long waiting times during peak hours."

While there can be many other types of prompts, the abovementioned types are more than enough to know for prompt engineering. By understanding the different types of prompt engineering, one can create more effective prompts tailored to the desired output. Choosing the right Prompt for a given task can elicit more accurate and relevant responses from the model. Additionally, combining different types of prompts can result in hybrid prompts that use multiple techniques to generate the best possible response. For example, a hybrid prompt with a comparison prompt and a reflective prompt might be "Compare and contrast the differences between cats and dogs from your personal experience of owning both pets." This type of Prompt combines two types to generate a more specific and nuanced response from the model. By understanding the different prompt types, prompt engineers can create more effective prompts that result in better model outputs.

Hybrid Prompt

As the name suggests, hybrid prompts combine different types of prompts to achieve a specific goal or obtain more comprehensive responses from the model. Hybrid prompts can be compared to a puzzle made up of different pieces. Each piece represents a different prompt type, creating a complete and coherent picture when combined. By incorporating multiple prompt types, you can maximize the information and instructions provided to the model. Let's take an example to understand hybrid prompts better. Suppose you ask a large language model to generate a poem about nature. You can create a hybrid prompt by incorporating different elements.

  • First, you can use a context prompt and provide the contextual details of the imagination of nature related to the poem.
  • Next, you can add an expanding prompt by asking the model to gradually explore various aspects of nature, such as the beauty of forests, birds chirping, or the scent of fresh rain. This encourages the model to delve deeper and expand its understanding of the subject.
  • you can also include keywords specifying certain elements you want to be included in the poem, like "majestic mountains," "rippling streams," or "whispering trees." It will guide the model to focus on those particular elements while crafting the poem.
  • Finally, you can include a transforming prompt by instructing the model to start with a descriptive narrative and gradually transition into a more poetic and metaphorical language. This encourages the model to infuse creativity and literary devices into the poem.

By combining these different prompt types, the hybrid Prompt provides allows you to make your tasks simpler. The key idea behind hybrid prompts is to use the strengths of each prompt type to guide the model in producing more targeted, efficient responses. It's like creating a customized toolkit for the model to work with, enabling it to generate outputs that align more closely with the user's intentions and requirements.

Techniques for Effective Prompt Engineering

  1. Chain of thought refers to the logical flow and sequence of ideas within a prompt. It involves structuring the Prompt to guide the AI model through a coherent thought process, leading to the desired output. By carefully designing the chain of thought, prompt engineers provide a clear and organized framework for the AI model to follow, enabling it to generate more accurate and relevant responses. It provides context and instructions for the AI model's understanding and decision-making. It helps the model to make logical connections, consider dependencies, and reason through the given information in a systematic manner. This approach improves the quality of the Prompt and enhances the chances of obtaining desired outcomes. Let's consider a prompt for an AI model to generate a news article summary. Instead of simply providing the entire article as a prompt, a well-designed chain of thought would break down the Prompt into smaller, logical steps. It could start with an instruction to read and understand the article, then identify the main points or critical arguments, and finally, generate a concise summary based on those points. You can even provide an example of a good summary of an article. This chain of thought guides the AI model to follow a structured approach, resulting in a more coherent and accurate summary.

The chain of thought is an iterative process and therefore uses the Iterative Prompt Development technique, which is the process of refining and enhancing prompts through repeated iterations and improvements. It involves an iterative approach where the prompts are continuously modified, tested, and refined based on the feedback and results obtained. It encourages you to think critically, analyze the model's responses, and iteratively refine the prompts to address any gaps or limitations. You can observe patterns through multiple iterations, identify strengths and weaknesses, and make informed decisions about prompt modifications. It lets you understand how different prompt variations impact the model's responses.  Suppose a student wants to use a large language model to generate creative story ideas. In the initial Prompt, they may ask, "Give me story ideas." However, the initial responses may be vague or lack the desired level of creativity. Through iterative prompt development and chain of thought, the student can refine the Prompt to be more specific and instructive. In the next iteration, they could modify the Prompt to provide more guidance, such as "Generate three unique story ideas set in a dystopian future where technology has gone rogue." After evaluating the responses, the student realizes that the model needs further clarification and specificity. In the subsequent iteration, they modify the Prompt to include more context and constraints, like "Provide three story ideas set in a dystopian future where technology has gone rogue, focusing on themes of resilience and human connection." By analyzing the model's responses and iteratively refining the prompts, the student can gradually improve the quality and relevance of the story ideas generated. They may continue iterating, incorporating different prompt engineering principles, and experimenting with various prompt variations until they achieve the desired level of creativity and uniqueness in the generated story ideas.

  1. Self Consistency with the Chain of Thought- This technique enhances the decision-making process of the language model. The model can evaluate the most consistently generated output as the optimal solution by generating multiple sequences of the chain of thoughts. Although different thought processes may be employed to solve a problem, the final result may exhibit similarities. This technique recognizes that a problem can be approached from various angles and considers the range of outputs while ensuring coherence and alignment within the chain.
  1. Examples and Templates- Examples and templates are powerful tools used in prompt engineering to guide the language model's understanding and improve the quality of responses. They are specific instances or scenarios that demonstrate the desired output or behavior expected from the model. They provide concrete illustrations of the Prompt's requirements, helping the model grasp the intended task more effectively. Templates, on the other hand, are predefined structures or formats that outline the desired response. They offer a framework for the model to follow, ensuring consistency and coherence in the generated output. They provide clarity and guidance to the language model, helping it understand the specific task or prompt requirements. Prompt engineers can illustrate the desired output format, style, or content by presenting real-world examples. This aids the model in generating responses that align with the Prompt's objectives. Templates offer a structured framework that guides the model's response, ensuring consistency and improving the relevance of the generated output.

Suppose the Prompt asks the model to generate a product recommendation. The model might struggle to understand the format or specific information needed without examples or templates. The Prompt becomes more effective by providing examples of well-constructed product recommendations and a template that outlines the required information, such as the product name, key features, and reasons for the recommendation. The model can then utilize the examples and follow the template to generate relevant and coherent product recommendations, enhancing the quality of the Prompt's outputs.

  1. Targeted Audience - involves tailoring the prompts to suit the specific characteristics and preferences of the intended Audience. It involves understanding the target audience's demographics, knowledge level, language proficiency, and unique requirements. This includes age, education level, cultural background, and domain expertise. Prompt engineers can create relevant, engaging, and effective prompts to deliver the desired results by considering these aspects. It allows prompt engineers to create prompts that resonate with the users. By understanding the Audience's background and preferences, prompt engineers can customize the prompts to match their expectations and effectively communicate the desired information. This approach improves user experience, increases engagement, and enhances the likelihood of generating accurate and meaningful responses.

A prompt that aims to generate educational content for elementary school students would involve using age-appropriate language, simple vocabulary, and engaging examples that resonate with young learners. By considering the specific needs and capabilities of the target audience, the prompts can be designed to deliver information in an accessible and enjoyable manner, ensuring practical learning experiences for the students.

  1. Specific Instructions- Specific instructions are mentioned repetitively to emphasize their importance. They are detailed and unambiguous guidelines that communicate the specific expectations for the AI system's response. These instructions can include specifying the format, structure, or content of the desired output and any constraints or criteria that need to be met. By providing explicit instructions, prompt engineers aim to guide the AI system toward generating accurate and relevant responses. It helps achieve the desired output and improves the quality of generated responses. Clear and well-defined instructions set the expectations for the AI system, reducing ambiguity and increasing the likelihood of obtaining the desired results. Specific instructions also enable prompt engineers to control and fine-tune the behavior of the AI system, ensuring that it aligns with the intended purpose and meets the user's needs.

To generate a summary of an article, specific instructions include guiding the AI system to provide a concise and accurate summary of the article's main points while avoiding any bias or opinion. The instructions could specify the summary length, the key elements that should be included, and any specific formatting requirements. Prompt engineers can guide the AI system to produce summaries that meet the desired criteria and effectively serve the user's information needs by providing specific instructions.

  1. Tree of Thought- Initially there was a simple prompt, where users provide a question, problem, or task to the language model, setting the context for analysis and problem-solving then came the idea of the Chain of Thought technique that allows for the generation of interconnected thoughts, exploring various possibilities and solutions followed by the integration of Self Consistency where the language model can evaluate multiple sequences of thoughts to achieve consistent and coherent outputs. Finally, we introduce you to the Tree of Thought technique, it enables language models to consider multiple potential solutions simultaneously, utilizing thought decomposition, a thought generator, state evaluation, and search algorithms like Breadth First Search (BFS) and Depth First Search (DFS) to explore different paths. These principles empower language models to generate insightful and well-structured responses tailored to user needs. To understand it we will use an example of ‘Game of 24’ which involves using four given numbers and basic arithmetic operations (+, -, *, /) to obtain a target value of 24. For our example, we have the numbers 3,9,10,13.
  • First, the Thought Decomposition step breaks down the main problem into smaller sub-problems. In the context of the 'Game of 24,' this means decomposing the problem into various combinations of the given numbers (ex: one subproblem could be using the numbers with addition and subtraction only while another could be using numbers with multiplication division and subtraction only). Each combination represents a branch in the Tree of Thought, forming different paths the model can explore.
  • Thought Generator utilizes the language model's vast knowledge and generation capabilities to propose potential solutions or thoughts for each sub-problem. In the case of our example, the Thought Generator generates multiple expressions that combine the given numbers and operations. For instance, it may suggest an expression like (9*3) (left 10,13)), which represents one of the potential paths by using the remaining numbers to reach the target value of 24.
  • State Evaluator evaluates the quality and feasibility of the generated thoughts. It considers factors such as coherence, relevance, and effectiveness to determine the potential value of each thought. It evaluates whether the expressions generated will actually result in the target value of 24 or not. For example, if the expression (10*9(left 3,13)) is generated, it would be deemed as unsuccessful since it is impossible to reach the value of 24 with the remaining numbers.
  • Finally, the Tree of Thought Prompting incorporates a search algorithm, such as Breadth First Search (BFS) or Depth First Search (DFS), to navigate and explore the generated thoughts. These search algorithms enable the language model to systematically traverse the tree-like structure, considering multiple paths and potential solutions. By exploring different combinations of operations and numbers, the model identifies the most promising thoughts that lead to the desired target value of 24. For instance for the expression in our previous point, it was impossible to reach to the value of 24 in this case the model goes back to the previous branch of the tree(backtracking) to find another possible solution.

These techniques empower users to continuously learn, adapt, and optimize their prompts, leading to better outcomes and more effective interaction with large language models. It encourages a growth mindset, fosters creativity, and helps them become proficient in prompt engineering. This is a recommended practice for prompt engineers, "Just as a potter shapes clay with practice, we mold our knowledge of prompts through learning and experience. With each interaction, we gain insight into the intricacies of crafting good prompts and the pitfalls of stumbling upon bad prompts, refining our skills in the process".

Evaluating Prompts Performance

Evaluating the performance of prompts is a crucial aspect of prompt engineering that allows prompt engineers to assess the effectiveness and quality of their prompts. The evaluation process involves examining the generated output from AI systems based on the given prompts and comparing it against the desired or expected results. This evaluation helps understand how well the prompts guide the AI model and whether they produce the desired outcomes. There are various techniques and approaches for evaluating prompt performance.

  • Qualitative evaluation involves human evaluators reviewing and assessing the generated output based on the prompts. Evaluators, domain experts, or individuals with relevant knowledge examine the outputs for correctness, relevance, coherence, and other desired criteria. Qualitative evaluation provides valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the prompts.
  • Comparison to Baselines- This method involves comparing the performance of a prompt to a baseline or reference prompt. The reference prompt can be an existing prompt or a gold standard response. By comparing the outputs, prompt engineers can assess the relative effectiveness of different prompts.  
  • Automated Metrics: Automated metrics use computational techniques to measure the quality of generated responses. One commonly used metric is perplexity, which quantifies how well a language model predicts a given sequence of words. Lower perplexity values indicate better-performing prompts. Other metrics include BLEU (Bilingual Evaluation Understudy), ROUGE (Recall-Oriented Understudy for Gisting Evaluation), and METEOR (Metric for Evaluation of Translation with Explicit Ordering).
  • User Feedback: Gathering feedback from users who interact with AI systems based on the prompts can provide valuable insights into the prompts' effectiveness. Users can provide opinions, suggestions, and assessments that help identify any limitations or areas of improvement.
  • Crowd-Sourcing Platforms: Platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk or specialized crowd-sourcing platforms allow prompt engineers to obtain feedback and evaluations from a larger audience. This helps gather diverse perspectives and opinions, enabling prompt engineers to identify biases, potential issues, or areas of improvement.
  • Task-Specific Evaluation: Sometimes, prompts are evaluated based on their ability to accomplish a specific task. For example, in a question-answering system, the evaluation may focus on the accuracy of the provided answers or the completion of a given task.

Prompt evaluation is an iterative process. Prompt engineers typically use a combination of the above methods to gain a comprehensive understanding of prompt performance. The evaluation process is essential for prompt engineers to identify areas of improvement, refine the prompts, and optimize them for better performance. It helps address common issues such as ambiguity, bias, overgeneralization, or under-specification in the prompts. By analyzing the evaluation results, prompt engineers can gain insights into the prompts' specific challenges and make necessary adjustments to enhance their effectiveness.

Let's consider the evaluation of a chatbot prompt for customer support. Human evaluators can engage with the chatbot and rate the responses based on their helpfulness, accuracy, and friendliness. Automated metrics such as perplexity can be used to measure the language model's prediction accuracy. Comparison to a baseline prompt or a competitor's chatbot can provide insights into the Prompt's performance relative to others. User feedback can be collected through surveys or interviews to gauge customer satisfaction and identify any areas of improvement. The prompt engineer can then analyze the evaluation data and iterate on the prompt design to enhance its performance in providing adequate customer support.

Limitations and Challenges in Prompt Engineering

Prompt engineering, although a powerful technique in shaping the behavior of AI models, comes with its own set of challenges. As prompt engineers delve into the intricate process of designing prompts, they encounter various obstacles that can hinder the desired outcomes. These challenges range from addressing ambiguity and bias to handling hallucinations and insufficient training data. Prompt engineers must understand these challenges and develop strategies to mitigate them effectively. By navigating these obstacles, prompt engineers can enhance AI systems' reliability, accuracy, and ethical considerations, paving the way for more robust and trustworthy applications in artificial intelligence.

  1. Ambiguity arises when the Prompt is unclear or open to multiple interpretations, leading to inconsistent or undesired responses from the AI model. Prompt engineers must address this challenge to ensure the model understands the prompt correctly and generates accurate outputs. Example:  

To avoid ambiguity:

  • Provide specific and detailed instructions, clearly defining the desired outcome.
  • Include additional context or constraints that narrow down the scope of the Prompt.
  • Anticipate potential misinterpretations and address them explicitly in the Prompt.
  • Seek feedback from users or subject matter experts to identify and clarify any ambiguous prompts.
  1. Biased Outputs- Bias in AI outputs is a significant challenge prompt engineers face. Biases can emerge due to biases in the training data or underlying AI models, resulting in unfair or discriminatory responses. Prompt engineers need to be aware of these biases and take measures to mitigate them to ensure fair and unbiased AI system outputs. Example:  

To address biased outputs:

  • Curate diverse and inclusive training datasets that represent various demographics and perspectives.
  • Implement fairness evaluation metrics to identify and mitigate bias in AI outputs.
  • Regularly monitor and update the training data to reduce bias over time.
  • Incorporate ethical guidelines and principles into prompt engineering practices.
  1. Hallucination refers to instances where the AI model generates outputs that are not grounded in reality or entirely fictional. These outputs are not supported by the provided data or the intended Prompt, leading to inaccurate or misleading responses. Hallucinations can occur when the model extrapolates or makes assumptions beyond the scope of the Prompt or the available information. One common reason for this is insufficient training data. If the AI model has not been exposed to diverse and relevant examples, it may attempt to fill in the gaps by hallucinating information. Another reason is the presence of biases in the training data, which can influence the model's outputs and lead to hallucinatory responses. The complexity of the Prompt and the model's ability to generalize can also contribute to hallucinations.  

To avoid hallucinations:

  • Clear and specific instructions: Provide explicit and unambiguous instructions to the AI model. Avoid vague or open-ended prompts that leave room for interpretation.
  • Robust training data: Ensure the training dataset is comprehensive, diverse, and representative of the real-world scenarios the model will encounter. This helps the model understand and generate accurate responses based on factual information.
  • Fact-checking and validation: Incorporate fact-checking mechanisms to verify the accuracy of generated outputs. Cross-referencing the model's responses with reliable sources can help identify and correct hallucinations.
  • Fine-tuning and iteration: Continuously refine the Prompt and the model based on feedback and evaluation. Iterative development allows prompt engineers to identify and address hallucinations by modifying the Prompt or adjusting the training process.
  • Human oversight: Implement human-in-the-loop approaches to review and validate the AI system's outputs. Human supervision can help detect and correct hallucinations, ensuring the reliability and trustworthiness of the generated responses.
  1. Generalization- Generalization refers to the ability of an AI model to apply learned knowledge from specific prompt examples to handle unseen scenarios or broader contexts. Prompt engineers face the challenge of ensuring that their prompts enable the model to generalize effectively. For example, suppose a prompt engineer designs a prompt for an image recognition AI model to identify specific breeds of dogs based on a few training examples. The challenge arises when the model fails to recognize breeds not explicitly included in the training examples. Prompt engineers can address the generalization challenge by designing prompts to encourage the model to understand underlying concepts rather than memorizing specific examples. They can incorporate diverse training data, include representative samples from various categories, and provide prompts that require the model to reason and generalize beyond the specific training instances.  

To avoid Generalization:

  • Design diverse and representative training examples to cover various contexts.
  • Encourage the model to understand underlying concepts and patterns rather than relying solely on memorizing specific examples.
  • Incorporate transfer learning techniques to leverage pre-trained models that have already learned general knowledge.
  1. Adaptability- Different AI models have different strengths, architectures, and requirements. Prompt engineers face the challenge of adapting their prompt engineering techniques to specific models for optimal performance. While a particular prompt engineering strategy works well for a model, it may yield different results when applied to another model due to architectural differences.  

To be Adaptive:

  • Stay updated with the latest advancements in AI models and prompt engineering techniques.
  • Understand the strengths and limitations of different models to choose the most appropriate one for a given task.
  • Experiment with different prompt styles and formats to find the optimal approach for a particular model.
  1. Domain-Knowledge -Crafting effective prompts requires a deep understanding of the domain and the problem. Prompt engineers need knowledge about the specific task, relevant data, and the target audience to create prompts that produce meaningful and accurate results. Like when designing prompts for medical diagnosis, prompt engineers must have a solid understanding of medical terminology, symptoms, and treatment options to guide the model effectively.  

To overcome this:

  • Conduct thorough research and gather domain-specific knowledge related to the task.
  • Collaborate with domain experts to ensure the accuracy and relevance of prompts.
  • Continuously update and expand domain knowledge to adapt to evolving tasks and domains.
  1. Evaluation and Iteration- Assessing the effectiveness of prompts can be challenging. Prompt engineers need to evaluate AI system outputs' quality, relevance, and accuracy to refine their prompts iteratively. This can be challenging due to the subjective nature of evaluation, the need for a definitive ground truth for comparison, the complexity of language understanding, limited evaluation resources, and the iterative nature of the refinement process. These challenges arise from the need to assess the effectiveness of prompts and AI system outputs, make judgments on the quality and relevance of generated content, measure language comprehension accuracy, allocate resources for evaluations, and engage in a continuous cycle of designing, testing, evaluating, and refining prompts. Despite these challenges, prompt engineers employ strategies like developing evaluation methodologies and incorporating user feedback to overcome obstacles and improve prompt quality over time. They also collect feedback from users and stakeholders to understand their expectations and Continuously iterate and refine prompts based on evaluation results and user feedback.

Applications of Prompt Engineering

Prompt engineering finds applications in various domains and has proven to be a powerful technique for enhancing the capabilities of language models. The applications of prompt engineering span a wide range of fields, including natural language processing, artificial intelligence, chatbots, virtual assistants, language translation, and more. By utilizing carefully crafted prompts, developers can shape the behavior and output of language models to suit specific tasks and requirements. Prompt engineering enables effective communication between humans and machines, whether generating accurate answers, providing personalized recommendations, or simulating human-like conversations. In this guide, we will explore the diverse applications of prompt engineering, delve into real-world examples, and highlight its transformative potential in various industries and technological advancements. It is a new and rapidly growing field that offers abundant job opportunities as organizations across industries recognize the importance of harnessing the power of language models and enhancing their performance through effective, prompt design and engineering. Some of the applications of prompt engineering that can help organizations are:

  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Prompt engineering is crucial in creating conversational agents like chatbots and virtual assistants. By crafting well-designed prompts, prompt engineers can improve the accuracy and relevance of the responses generated by these AI systems. For example, prompt engineering can ensure that the system understands user queries and provides helpful and appropriate responses in a customer service chatbot.
  • Content Generation: Prompt engineering can be used in content generation tasks such as writing articles, essays, or creative pieces. By providing specific instructions and examples in the prompt, prompt engineers can guide the language model to generate content that aligns with the desired style, tone, and topic. This enables efficient and accurate content creation, benefiting content creators, marketers, and writers.
  • Language Translation: Prompt engineering techniques are also applicable in language translation. By creating prompts that specify the source and target languages, prompt engineers can train language models to perform accurate and context-aware translation tasks. This helps bridge language barriers and facilitates effective communication in multilingual settings.
  • Code Generation and Software Development: Prompt engineering can generate code snippets and assist in software development. Prompt engineers can guide the language model to produce code that meets specific requirements by providing clear instructions and examples. This can aid developers in automating repetitive tasks, enhancing code quality, and boosting productivity.
  • Question Answering Systems: Prompt engineering techniques are valuable for building question-answering systems that can provide precise and informative answers to user queries. By designing prompts that effectively convey the expected answer format and relevant context, prompt engineers can train language models to retrieve and present accurate information from various knowledge sources.
  • Content Summarization: Prompt engineering can be applied in content summarization tasks, where the goal is to generate concise and informative summaries of longer texts. By providing prompts that specify the desired length and content coverage, prompt engineers can guide the language model to produce effective summaries, benefiting information retrieval, news aggregators, and document analysis.
  • Data Analysis and Insights: Prompt engineering techniques can assist in data analysis tasks by enabling language models to generate insights and perform exploratory analysis on large datasets. By creating prompts that outline the desired analysis goals and specific data parameters, prompt engineers can facilitate extracting meaningful information and patterns from complex datasets.
  • Auto GPT refers to using prompt engineering techniques with large language models like GPT to automate various tasks. Auto GPT offers a versatile tool for various applications, empowering users to achieve automation, customization, and productivity gains in their respective fields. By designing prompts that define specific tasks and providing clear instructions, prompt engineers can train the language model to perform a wide range of automated tasks, such as creating product descriptions instead of manually creating product descriptions for every product, creating a good prompt providing necessary details to generate your desired description for one type of product (like laptops) and then using that Prompt to automatically generate a description for all the products of that same type (laptops). Responsible and ethical use of Auto GPT involves considering the prompts' implications and ensuring they align with ethical guidelines and societal norms.

Prompt engineering has various applications across various domains, from conversational AI to content generation, translation, code development, question answering, summarization, data analysis, and more. By leveraging prompt engineering techniques, organizations can enhance the capabilities of large language models and leverage their potential to automate tasks, improve user experiences, and gain valuable insights. As the demand for AI-driven solutions continues to grow, the field of prompt engineering offers exciting opportunities for professionals to contribute to cutting-edge technologies and drive innovation in natural language processing.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations are crucial in prompt engineering to ensure AI language models' responsible and beneficial use. There are several ethical concerns that prompt engineers should be aware of and address, such as the potential for bias in a prompt generation. Language models trained on biased data may produce prompts that perpetuate societal biases, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes. Ethical, prompt engineering requires actively identifying and mitigating biases to promote fairness and inclusivity in the prompts generated. Additionally, privacy and data protection are critical considerations. Prompt engineering involves processing user inputs, which may contain sensitive or personal information. Respecting user privacy rights, obtaining informed consent, and implementing strong security measures are essential to protect user data and maintain user trust. Prompt engineering should prioritize generating accurate and reliable information. Care must be taken to prevent the spread of misinformation or the manipulation of prompts to deceive and mislead users or generate prompts that promote discrimination, hate speech, or offensive content, which is highly unethical and should be strictly prohibited. To add on, prompt engineering should prioritize generating accurate and reliable information. Care must be taken to prevent the spread of misinformation or the manipulation of prompts to deceive or mislead users. Lastly, prompt engineers should abide by legal regulations and ethical guidelines governing the use of AI systems. It is essential to avoid engaging in practices that violate laws, infringe upon rights, or compromise ethical principles like using these models to generate scams related spams.

Addressing Ethical Concerns in prompt engineering is an ongoing endeavor, but some of the ways that can handle these ethical concerns are:

  1. Robust Ethical Guidelines: Develop comprehensive guidelines and frameworks specific to prompt engineering that outline ethical standards and best practices during prompt creation and deployment.
  2. Transparent and Explainable AI: Striving for transparency in prompt engineering processes and ensuring that AI language models explain their generated responses. This allows users and stakeholders to understand the reasoning behind the prompts and promotes accountability.
  3. Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation: Regularly monitoring and evaluating prompt engineering systems' performance and ethical implications to identify and address emerging ethical concerns and biases.
  4. Collaboration and Multi-Stakeholder Involvement: Engaging with diverse stakeholders, including ethicists, domain experts, policymakers, and end-users, to foster a collaborative approach in addressing ethical concerns and ensuring a broader perspective on prompt engineering practices

Ethical considerations are of utmost importance in prompt engineering. As AI language models become increasingly integrated into various applications, prompt engineers must diligently address ethical concerns. Prompt engineers can contribute to developing AI systems that benefit society while upholding ethical standards by focusing on fairness, inclusivity, privacy, and responsible practices. It is crucial to promote ongoing discussions, research, and education around ethical considerations in prompt engineering to ensure the responsible and ethical use of AI technology for the betterment of all.

Acknowledgment: This guide was skillfully crafted with the help of Saud M.

Join Our Newsletter

Stay informed with the latest in AI research, updates, and insights directly to your inbox

Subscribe Now

More our similar blogs

You might also like

November 28, 2023

Using Gen AI to reduce reliance on human labers


Sam Naji, Joseph Tekriti
November 25, 2023

Is That Picture Real?


Sam Naji, Joseph Tekriti
November 24, 2023

Advanced Prompting Frameworks


Sam Naji, Joseph Tekriti