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Train LLM from Scratch

Training an LLM to Generate Python Code: A Step-by-Step Guide for CS Students

As a computer science student, learning how to train a Large Language Model (LLM) on Python code can be an incredibly useful and educational project. LLMs like GPT-3 have shown impressive abilities to generate code from simple text prompts. In this post, I'll provide a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of training your own LLM code generator.


Before we begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A Python programming environment like Anaconda

  • Deep learning frameworks like PyTorch or TensorFlow

  • Access to cloud computing resources

  • An IDE like Visual Studio Code

  • A large dataset of Python code examples

  • A dataset of textual descriptions of code

These resources are freely available online or through your university. Check the links at the end for download and signup instructions.

Step 1 - Data Cleaning and Preprocessing

The first step is preparing your datasets. This involves:

  • Cleaning the data by removing duplicates, invalid examples etc.

  • Tokenizing the text into numerical IDs that the model can understand

  • Creating a vocabulary of tokens to map the tokens to IDs

  • Splitting data into training and validation sets

Clean data is critical for effective LLM training. Expect to spend time on this stage.

Step 2 - Training the Model

Now we can train the LLM on the preprocessed data using the deep learning frameworks. Key steps here are:

  • Instantiating the model architecture with appropriate hyperparameters

  • Feeding the training data in batch sizes

  • Tracking training loss at each epoch

  • Saving checkpoint models at regular intervals

Training will likely take hours or days depending on your hardware. Be patient!

Step 3 - Evaluation

Once training is complete, evaluate the model on the validation set:

  • Feed validation examples into the model

  • Compare generated code to actual code

  • Calculate accuracy metrics like BLEU score

  • Identify error patterns

Evaluation quantifies model capabilities and identifies areas for improvement.

Step 4 - Iteration and Improvement

Use the evaluation results to tweak model hyperparameters and training data. Some options are:

  • Increase model size for higher capacity

  • Adjust batch size, learning rate or other hyperparameters

  • Augment data with more examples

  • Balance the training dataset

  • Regularize to prevent overfitting

Iterating will improve model quality over time. The key is persistently refining and testing.


Training an LLM for code generation is challenging but rewarding. With the right prep, clear process, patience and persistence, you can build an AI assistant that converts text to Python code! Remember to stay organized, leverage cloud resources, and keep iterating. The skills you learn will be invaluable as LLMs become mainstream. For additional information see AI HIVE. 

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