There is a rapidly growing number of large language models (LLMs) that users can query for a fee. We review the cost associated with querying popular LLM APIs, e.g. GPT-4, ChatGPT, J1-Jumbo, and find that these models have heterogeneous pricing structures, with fees that can differ by two orders of magnitude. In particular, using LLMs on large collections of queries and text can be expensive. Motivated by this, we outline and discuss three types of strategies that users can exploit to reduce the inference cost associated with using LLMs: 1) prompt adaptation, 2) LLM approximation, and 3) LLM cascade. As an example, we propose FrugalGPT, a simple yet flexible instantiation of LLM cascade which learns which combinations of LLMs to use for different queries in order to reduce cost and improve accuracy. Our experiments show that FrugalGPT can match the performance of the best individual LLM (e.g. GPT-4) with up to 98% cost reduction or improve the accuracy over GPT-4 by 4% with the same cost. The ideas and findings presented here lay a foundation for using LLMs sustainably and efficiently.
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