The Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) model is emerging as a powerful new AI tool; however, harnessing its full potential requires navigating the complexities of extensive and messy datasets. From website crawling to query optimisation, this blog post will provide some clarity to help you unlock the true power of this model.
Searching for information can be a challenging task, especially when dealing with large datasets, duplicate content, and unstructured information. Unlike typical machine learning tasks that involve categorising or predicting outcomes, search focuses on identifying the most relevant documents from a myriad of options with overlapping information.
Enhancing RAG performance relies on meticulous data cleaning. While RAG may work well with simple and clean data sources out of the box, using websites or complex datasets requires preprocessing. Crawling data from websites often leads to extraneous information, which can introduce noise in the retrieval results. To address this, it is crucial to take a systematic approach that includes only the relevant information.
Duplicate data is a major hindrance to RAG's performance as it reduces the uniqueness of information available for generating answers. A careful crawling strategy that includes only unique information is essential. Additionally, a post-crawl deduplication step becomes crucial, especially when dealing with scenarios like university websites where course outlines from different years may be duplicated.
When it comes to dealing with vast amounts of data - even after ensuring it's clean and accurate - enterprises, especially Tertiary Institutions, often face a challenge in searching through it all. Let's take an example: someone asks, ‘Do you have any scholarships for first-year students in Creative Arts?’. In a typical search, it would retrieve pages with any of those search terms, including creative arts faculty pages, first-year guides, and general scholarships.
To tackle this issue, we need to go beyond a basic keyword search and enhance the retrieval strategy. One approach is to combine vector search, semantic reranking, and adopt a multi-stage search process, just like a human would. Rephrasing queries is a common practice that boosts retrieval performance. A lightweight yet effective solution is instructing the language model (LLM) to rephrase the query into an efficient search query. Another method, called HyDE, constructs a hypothetical answer/document using an LLM, which is then utilised in the search. However, it's essential to exercise caution with keyword-based search engines, as increasing the number of words can lead to unexpected and sometimes irrelevant results.
With these refined approaches, we can conquer the data challenges faced by enterprises and Tertiary Institutions, making information retrieval more effective and efficient. By harnessing the power of technology, we can discover meaningful insights and find relevant answers amidst the vast sea of data.
Mastering the potential of the Retrieval-Augmented Generation model involves addressing the intricacies of data, from cleaning and deduplication to effective filtering and query optimisation. By implementing these strategies, you can unlock the true power of RAG and turn it into a valuable asset for information retrieval in diverse scenarios. So go ahead and optimise your RAG model to get the most out of it!