Practical Data Considerations for Building Production-Ready LLM Applications

By Anyscale Ray Team   

This blog post is part of the Ray Summit 2023 highlights series where we provide a summary of the most exciting talk from our recent LLM developer conference.

Disclaimer: Summary was AI generated with human edits from video transcript.

LinkKey Takeaways

Building production-ready LLM (Large Language Model) applications involves practical data considerations that can significantly impact performance. This blog post explores key data-related aspects discussed in a recent presentation, including metadata integration, hierarchical retrieval, fine-tuning, and optimization.

  • Retrieval augmented generation (RAG) uses large language models (LLMs) to generate text by retrieving and summarizing relevant information. However, naive implementations can result in poor quality responses due to bad retrieval.

  • Some common retrieval issues are: low precision (irrelevant chunks retrieved), low recall (missing key context), outdated/redundant data. Non-quality issues include scalability and handling document updates.

  • Techniques to improve retrieval:

    • Embed at sentence-level, retrieve sentences, expand to context window for LM

    • Embed "references" instead of raw text chunks (summaries, metadata, etc)

    • Add metadata (page numbers, summaries, etc) to aid retrieval and synthesis

    • Hierarchical retrieval (top-level summary -> lower chunks)

    • Recursive retrieval for embedded objects (tables, graphs, etc)

  • Evaluating retrieval: Use GPT-4 to generate question-chunk pairs from documents as ground truth. Measure retrieval ranking metrics like MRR.

  • Addressing scalability: Use parallelization with Ray to speed up data ingestion, embedding, etc.

LinkPractical Data Considerations for Building Production-Ready LLM Applications

Large Language Models (LLMs) have revolutionized various aspects of natural language processing, enabling applications like chatbots, content generation, and question-answering systems. However, the journey from building a simple prototype to creating a production-ready LLM application involves several practical data considerations. In this blog post, we will delve into the insights shared in a recent presentation on "Practical Data Considerations for Building Production-Ready LLM Applications." We will explore key topics, including metadata integration, hierarchical retrieval, fine-tuning, and optimization.

LinkThe Importance of Data in LLM Applications

LLMs like GPT-4 have an impressive capacity to understand and generate human-like text. However, the quality of their output depends significantly on the data provided to them. Practical data considerations are essential for enhancing an LLM's performance and relevance in real-world applications.

LinkMetadata Integration: Enhancing Context

One of the first considerations discussed in the presentation is metadata integration. Metadata refers to additional information about the text, such as page numbers, document titles, and even structured data like tables or graphs. Integrating metadata into your LLM application has several advantages:

1. Improved Retrieval: Metadata can aid in both retrieval and synthesis. By including metadata filters in your search, you can retrieve more relevant content. For example, if you're looking for information within a specific time frame, metadata tags can help narrow down your search results.

2. Context Enhancement: Metadata enriches the context provided to the LLM. It helps the model understand the content better, enabling it to generate more coherent and relevant responses. For example, if you add page numbers as metadata, your LLM can provide in-text citations, enhancing the credibility of the information it generates.

Metadata integration can be a valuable asset in building production-ready LLM applications, but it's crucial to strike a balance to prevent overwhelming the system with excessive metadata.

LinkHierarchical Retrieval: Navigating Context Window Limitations

LLMs often have limitations on the number of tokens they can handle in a single context window. This limitation can be a challenge when dealing with lengthy documents or when needing to access information across multiple sections. To overcome these limitations, hierarchical retrieval is introduced.

Hierarchical Retrieval: This approach involves organizing documents and their content hierarchically. For example, documents can be summarized at a higher level before drilling down to specific sections or paragraphs. This approach can be effective in addressing the context window limitation.

Recursive Retrieval: In some cases, documents may contain embedded objects such as tables or graphs. These objects can be represented as separate entities, allowing for recursive retrieval. The LLM can start with an overview, retrieve relevant objects, and then dive deeper to access specific information within those objects. This hierarchical and recursive retrieval process provides a more efficient means of accessing and presenting information, especially when dealing with complex documents.

LinkFine-Tuning for Specific Applications

Fine-tuning LLMs is a critical step in making them suitable for specific applications. The presentation highlighted the importance of fine-tuning, particularly for models like GPT-4 that have the potential to generate high-quality text. While fine-tuning can significantly improve performance, it requires expertise and careful consideration.

Customized Training Data: Fine-tuning involves training the LLM on a specific dataset tailored to the application's requirements. This process can be resource-intensive, as it may involve collecting, cleaning, and annotating a substantial amount of data. However, the results often justify the effort.

Enhancing Relevance: Fine-tuning allows you to adjust the LLM's behavior to ensure that it generates contextually relevant responses. For example, in a medical chatbot application, fine-tuning can make the model more accurate in providing medical information and responding to user queries.

Monitoring and Iteration: Fine-tuning is not a one-time process. It requires ongoing monitoring and iteration to maintain the model's performance. Regularly updating the fine-tuned model with new data helps it adapt to changing contexts and evolving user needs.

LinkOptimization Strategies for Scalability

Scalability is a crucial factor in deploying production-ready LLM applications. The ability to handle large volumes of data and deliver results efficiently is essential for success. The presentation outlined several optimization strategies to ensure scalability:

Parallelization: Processing large volumes of data can be time-consuming. Utilizing parallelization techniques, such as distributing data processing tasks across multiple resources using Ray, can significantly speed up data ingestion, parsing, and embedding.

Caching: Caching frequently accessed data can reduce the need for repeated retrieval and processing, leading to faster response times. Implementing an efficient caching system can be a valuable optimization step.

Distributed Data Storage: Storing data in distributed systems, such as vector databases, can improve retrieval performance. It allows for efficient querying and retrieval of relevant information, enhancing the overall user experience.


Building production-ready LLM applications is a multi-faceted process that requires careful consideration of practical data aspects. Metadata integration, hierarchical retrieval, fine-tuning, and optimization play pivotal roles in ensuring that LLMs provide accurate, relevant, and efficient responses.

As LLM technology continues to advance, the ability to harness these practical data considerations becomes even more critical. By implementing these strategies, developers can create LLM applications that excel in a wide range of domains, from healthcare and finance to education and customer support.

In the ever-evolving landscape of natural language processing, mastering the art of practical data considerations using RAG techniques is the key to building LLM applications that truly shine in production environments.

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