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How do Large Language Models (LLM) work? The technology behind ChatGPT and others

In a time when artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are gaining increasing importance, Large Language Models (LLM) are a particularly exciting field of research. They are revolutionizing the way we interact with computers and generate texts. But how do they actually work? In this article, we take a look behind the scenes of LLMs and explain the mechanisms that underlie them.

The Core of an LLM: The Neural Architecture

An LLM is a computer model based on artificial neural networks that aims to develop human-like language processing capabilities. These models consist of millions or even billions of artificial neurons, called nodes, arranged in a hierarchical structure. Each node is connected to many other nodes and can receive, process, and transmit signals. The architecture of LLMs is complex and consists of several layers, each serving different functions. The input layer receives the original text data, while the output layer outputs the generated texts. In between lie the so-called hidden layers, which perform the actual processing of information.

The Magic of Machine Learning

To train an LLM, it is fed large amounts of text data from various sources, such as books, articles, or websites. During training, the model learns to recognize patterns and structures in the data and use them to predict the next word or phrase in the text. The training process is iterative and based on a technique called "backpropagation." In this process, the errors in the model – the deviations between the predictions and the actual data – are systematically reduced by adjusting the connections between the neurons. With each training round, the model improves and can make increasingly accurate predictions.

Tasks and Applications of LLM

LLMs can be used for a variety of tasks, such as text comprehension, text generation, machine translation, text classification, or sentiment analysis. They can also serve as "conversational agents" or chatbots capable of conducting human-like conversations. The application areas of LLMs are diverse, ranging from automated news summaries, creative writing, and customer support to scientific research assistants and legal advice.


Large Language Models are fascinating achievements of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They enable computers to develop human-like language processing capabilities and tackle complex tasks in various application areas. Through their ability to recognize and learn patterns and structures in large data sets, they can generate and understand human-like texts. Advances in the research and development of LLMs will continue to progress rapidly, leading to even more powerful and versatile models. However, it is essential to be aware of the ethical and societal challenges associated with the increasing prevalence of LLMs. These include aspects such as data privacy, biases in training data, intellectual property, and the potential replacement of human labor.