Navigating the LLM Benchmark Boom: A Comprehensive Catalogue

July 1, 2024
Authored by
Xin Guan
Machine Learning Intern at Holistic AI
Navigating the LLM Benchmark Boom: A Comprehensive Catalogue

In recent years, large language models (LLMs) have revolutionized the field of artificial intelligence, powering applications from chatbots to automated content generation. However, these advancements also bring new challenges, particularly in ensuring that these models perform optimally and ethically. Benchmarks are crucial in this process, providing standardized methods to measure and compare AI models, ensuring consistency, reliability, and fairness. With the rapid proliferation of LLMs, the landscape of benchmarks has also expanded dramatically.

As such, this blog post presents a comprehensive catalogue of benchmarks, categorized by their complexity, dynamics, assessment targets, downstream task specifications, and risk types. Whether you are a researcher, developer, or enterprise, understanding these distinctions will help you navigate the LLM benchmark boom effectively.

Key takeaways:

  • Complexity: Comprehensive benchmarks that cover multiple assessment areas with dynamically updated datasets.
  • System Type Specification: benchmarks that are tailored to specific systems like co-pilot, multimodal, retrieval-augmented generation (RAG), tool-use, and embodied LLMs.
  • Assessment Target: Capability-oriented benchmarks evaluate task performance, while risk-oriented benchmarks assess potential application risks.
  • Downstream Task Specification: Benchmarks that address tasks like question answering, summarization, text classification, translation, information extraction, and code generation.
  • Risk Type Specification: Benchmarks that measure specific risks of LLMS, including privacy, security, robustness, fairness, explainability, and sustainability.

What is LLM benchmarking?

Large Language Model (LLM) benchmarks are used to evaluate the performance of LLMs through standardized tasks or prompts. This process involves selecting tasks, generating input prompts, and obtaining model responses, quantitatively assessing the model's performance. These evaluations are crucial in AI audits and allow for an objective evaluation of LLMs, ensuring models are reliable, and ethically sound, thus maintaining public trust and promoting accountable AI development.

Benchmarks for LLMs can be represented using two continuums: simple to complex and risk-oriented to capability-oriented, creating four key segments. Complex benchmarks involve multiple assessment targets and system types, whereas simple benchmarks are target-specific. Capability-oriented benchmarks focus on evaluating task performance, while risk-oriented benchmarks assess potential application risks.

LLM Benchmarking

LLM Benchmark Complexity

Simple vs. Composite LLM benchmarks

While many of LLM benchmarks are straightforward, with specific assessment targets and methods, recently developed benchmarks are increasingly composite. Simple datasets typically focus on specific, isolated tasks, providing clear and straightforward metrics. In contrast, composite datasets incorporate various goals and methodologies. These complex benchmarks can assess multiple facets of an LLM's performance simultaneously, offering a more holistic view of its capabilities and limitations. Examples of these complex benchmarks include AlpacaEval, MT-bench, HELM (Holistic Evaluation of Language Models), BIG-Bench Hard (BBH).

Table 1. capability-oriented composite benchmarks

Benchmark Key Features Evaluation Methods
AlpacaEval Multiple evaluation methods, diverse datasets, advanced auto-annotators, length-controlled metrics Human validation, automated evaluations
MTBench 80 multi-turn questions, assesses conversational flow and instruction-following capabilities Advanced LLM judges (e.g., GPT-4)
HELM Broad range of scenarios, multiple metrics (accuracy, calibration, robustness, fairness, bias, toxicity, efficiency) Multi-metric evaluations, targeted evaluations
BIG-Bench Hard (BBH) 23 tasks requiring multi-step reasoning, covers logical deduction, arithmetic, commonsense reasoning Few-shot prompting, Chain-of-Thought (CoT)

Static vs. Dynamic LLM benchmarks

Although most of the benchmarks are static, meaning that they consist of a fixed set of questions or tasks that remain unchanged over time, some benchmarks are dynamic and continuously introduce new questions or tasks. This  helps to maintain their relevance and prevent models from overfitting to a specific dataset. Examples include LMSYS Chatbot Arena, LiveBench.

Table 2. Dynamic benchmarks

Benchmark Key Features Evaluation Methods
LiveBench Monthly updates with new questions from recent datasets, academic papers, news, and movie synopses Comparison with prepackaged answers for objective scoring
Chatbot Arena Incorporates real-time feedback and preferences from users interacting with chatbots Continuous updates based on user interactions and ratings

System Type Specification

To address the diverse applications of LLMs, benchmarks are also designed with system-type specifications in mind, ensuring that the models are effective and reliable in real-world applications. These benchmarks focus on evaluating how well LLMs perform in various integrated systems and are therefore towards the complex end of the spectrum. The key system types include:

  • Co-pilot Systems: Co-pilot benchmarks focus on how effectively an LLM can assist users in real-time, enhancing productivity and efficiency within software environments. This includes the model's ability to understand context, provide relevant suggestions, automate repetitive tasks, and integrate seamlessly with other software tools to support user workflows.
  • Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) Systems: RAG systems combine the strengths of LLMs with powerful retrieval mechanisms. These benchmarks evaluate the model's ability to fetch relevant information from external databases or the internet, and incorporate this information into coherent and contextually appropriate responses. This is particularly crucial for applications requiring up-to-date or highly specific information.
  • Tool-Use Systems: Tool-use benchmarks assess the model's proficiency in interacting with external tools and APIs. This includes executing commands, retrieving data, and performing complex operations based on user inputs. Effective tool-use enables LLMs to extend their capabilities, providing more versatile and practical applications in various domains, from data analysis to software development.
  • Multimodal Systems: Multimodal benchmarks test the model's ability to process and generate outputs across multiple data types, such as text, images, and audio. This is essential for applications in fields like media production, education, and customer service, where integrated and contextually aware responses across different media are required. The benchmarks evaluate how well the model understands and combines information from different modalities to provide coherent and relevant outputs.
  • Embodied Systems: Embodied benchmarks focus on the integration of LLMs into physical systems, such as robots or IoT devices. These benchmarks assess the model's ability to understand and navigate physical spaces, interact with objects, and perform tasks that require an understanding of the physical world. This is critical for applications in robotics, smart home devices, and other areas where LLMs need to operate within and respond to real-world environments.

Table 3. System-type-specification Benchmarks

System Type Specification Description Evaluation Tools
Co-pilot Evaluating real-time assistance and productivity enhancement within larger software environments. -
Retrieval-Augmented (RAG) Assessing the integration of external information retrieval with text generation. CARG, FreshLLM
Tool-Use Measuring how effectively LLMs can utilize external tools or APIs to perform tasks. TOOLE, WebArena, AgentBench
Multimodal Evaluating performance across different data types, such as text, images, and audio. MMMU, MathVista, AI2D, VQA, RealWorldQA
Embodied Focusing on models integrated into physical systems, such as robots or IoT devices. BEHAVIOR-1K

Benchmark Assessment Targets: Capability-oriented vs. Risk-oriented

Another critical distinction lies in the benchmarks' goals: capability-oriented versus risk-oriented. Capability-oriented benchmarks evaluate an LLM's proficiency in performing specific tasks, such as language translation or summarization. In other words, these benchmarks are crucial for measuring the functional strengths of a model. Examples of capability-oriented LLM benchmarks includeAlpacaEval, MT-bench, HELM, BIG-Bench Hard (BBH), and LiveBench.

Moreover, basic performance indicators are subset of capability-oriented indicators that evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of LLMs in generating text by measuring key metrics such as throughput, latency, and token cost.

Table 4. Basic performance indicators

Metric Description
Throughput Measures the number of tokens an LLM can generate per second.
Latency Refers to the time it takes for the model to start generating tokens after receiving an input (time to first token) and the time per output token.
Token Cost Involves the computational and financial expense required to generate tokens.

On the other hand, risk-oriented benchmarks focus on potential pitfalls and vulnerabilities of large language models. These can categorized into specific risks  such as robustness, privacy, security, fairness, explainability, sustainability, and other social impacts. By identifying and mitigating these risks, it can be ensured that LLMs are not only effective but also safe and ethical to use. Some examples of composite benchmarks include TrustLLM, AIRBench, Redteaming Resistance Benchmark.

Table 5. Risks-oriented composite benchmarks

Benchmark Key Features Evaluation Methods
TrustLLM Evaluates truthfulness, safety, fairness, robustness, privacy, and machine ethics Uses prepackaged answers across over 30 datasets to score LLM responses on 16 mainstream LLMs
AIRBench Diverse, malicious prompts aligned with regulation-based safety categories Uses prepackaged answers for scoring, with datasets tailored to specific regional regulations
Redteaming Resistance Benchmark High-quality human-generated adversarial prompts to test various vulnerabilities Uses prepackaged answers and tools like LlamaGuard and GPT-4 to classify responses as safe or unsafe

Downstream Task Specification

Understanding the diverse range of tasks that large language models (LLMs) can perform is crucial for evaluating their real-world applications. As such, a number of downstream tasks can be used to evaluate the specific capabilities of LLMs, including:

  • Comprehension and Question Answering: This task tests the model's ability to understand and interpret written text. It evaluates how well the model can answer questions based on passages, demonstrating its comprehension and retention of information.
  • Summarization: This task measures the model's capability to condense long texts into shorter, coherent summaries while preserving essential information and meaning. Tools like ROUGE are often used to assess the quality of these summaries. Check out our blog on LLM summarization metrics for more.
  • Text Classification: Text classification involves assigning predefined labels or categories to a text document based on its content. This foundational NLP task is used in various applications such as sentiment analysis, topic labeling, spam detection, and more.
  • Translation: This task evaluates the accuracy and fluency of the model in translating text from one language to another. Metrics are commonly used to compare the model's translations with human translations for quality assessment.
  • Information Extraction: This task tests the model's ability to identify and extract specific pieces of information from unstructured text. It includes tasks like named entity recognition (NER) and relationship extraction, which are crucial for converting text data into structured formats.
  • Code Generation: This task evaluates the model's proficiency in generating code snippets or completing coding tasks based on natural language descriptions. It includes understanding programming languages, syntax, and logical problem-solving.
  • Mathematical Reasoning: This task measures the model's capability to understand and solve mathematical problems, including arithmetic, algebra, calculus, and other mathematical concepts. It evaluates the model's logical reasoning and mathematical proficiency.
  • Common Sense Reasoning: This task assesses the model's ability to apply everyday knowledge and logical reasoning to answer questions or solve problems. It evaluates the model's understanding of the world and its ability to make sensible inferences.
  • General and Domain Knowledge: This task tests the model's proficiency in specific domains such as medicine, law, finance, or engineering. It assesses the depth and accuracy of the model's knowledge in specialized fields, which is crucial for applications requiring expert-level information.

Table 6. Downstream-task-specific benchmarks

Tasks Example Benchmarks
Code Generation HumanEval, Spider (Complex and Cross-Domain Semantic Parsing and Text-to-SQL)
Mathematical Reasoning GSM8K, MATH
Common Sense Reasoning CommonsenseQA, HellaSwag, WinoGrande, AI2 Reasoning Challenge (ARC)
General and Domain Knowledge MMLU, The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) dataset, AlphaFin

Risk-Oriented Benchmarks: A Closer Look

Robustness benchmarks

Robustness benchmarks are a type of risk-oriented benchmark used to assess how well an LLM performs under various conditions, including noisy or adversarial inputs. These tasks ensure the model's reliability and consistency in diverse and challenging scenarios.

Table 7. Robustness Assessment Benchmark

Robustness Assessment Area Description Benchmarks
Examining the Truthfulness Verifying the accuracy of the model's explanations. TruthfulQA
Reading Comprehension Robustness Assessing how well the model understands and answers questions in challenging scenarios. AdversarialQA
Long Context Retrieval Stability Evaluating performance on tasks where relevant information is buried within large amounts of irrelevant data. Needle-in-a-Haystack
Prompt Token Modification Stability Evaluating the stability of the model's performance when the prompt is slightly modified. AART (Adversarial and Robustness Testing)

Security benchmarks

Security benchmarks focus on the model's resilience to attacks, such as data poisoning or adversarial exploits, ensuring the model's integrity and reliability.

Table 8. Security Assessment Benchmark

Security Evaluation Area Description Benchmarks
Insecure Code Practice Identifying and mitigating insecure coding practices. CyberSecEval 2.0
Exaggerated Safety Evaluating exaggerated safety mechanisms. CyberSecEval 2.0
Jailbreaking Assessing the model's vulnerability to being manipulated or bypassed. Do-anything-now

Privacy benchmarks

Privacy benchmarks evaluate the model's ability to protect sensitive information, ensuring user data and interactions remain confidential and secure.

Table 9. Privacy Assessment Benchmark

Privacy Evaluation Area Description Benchmarks
System or User Prompt Leakage Ensuring the model does not leak sensitive prompts. EronEmail
Privacy Awareness Assessing the model's understanding and handling of private information. ConfAIde

Fairness benchmarks

Fairness benchmarks assess whether the model's outputs are unbiased and equitable across different demographic groups, promoting inclusivity and preventing discrimination.

Table 10. Fairness Assessment Benchmark

Fairness Evaluation Area Description Benchmarks
Explicit Demographic Descriptors Counterfactual Generations Testing the model's responses to different demographic descriptors. BBQ, RedditBias, STEREOSET
Implicit Bias in Names and Languages Identifying biases associated with names and other characteristics. BOLD, TwitterAAE, CrowS-Pairs
Ethical Views Alignment Test Ensuring the model's outputs align with ethical standards. Ethics, SOCIAL CHEMISTRY 101
Fairness in Hiring Context Assessing bias in the hiring context. JobFair

Explainability benchmarks

Explainability benchmarks measure how well the LLM can provide understandable and transparent reasoning for its outputs, promoting trust and clarity.

Table 11. Explainability Assessment Benchmark

Explainability Evaluation Area Description Benchmarks
Chain-of-thought Ability Assessing the logical coherence of the model's reasoning. Reveal
Effectiveness of Explanations Measuring overall effectiveness in providing clear explanations. e-SNLI
Tendency to Deceive Checking for any deceptive tendencies in the model's explanations. -
Tendency of Sycophancy Evaluating the model's propensity to agree with the user's input. SycophancyEval

Sustainability benchmarks

Sustainability benchmarks evaluate the environmental impact of training and deploying LLMs, promoting eco-friendly practices and resource efficiency.

Table 12. Sustainability Assessment Benchmark

Sustainability Impact Evaluation Area Description Benchmarks
Flops Used in Training and Inferences Measuring the computational resources required. Inference flops, Training flops
Carbon Footprint Estimating the environmental impact of the model. Energy consumption in training

Social Impact benchmarks

Social impact benchmarks encompass a wide range of considerations, including the societal and ethical implications of deploying LLMs, ensuring they contribute positively to society.

Table 13. Social Impact Assessment Benchmarks

Social Impact Evaluation Area Description Benchmarks
Copyright Violation Ensuring the model does not generate content that violates copyright. CopyrightLLMs
Political Influencing Assessing the potential influence on political opinions and decisions. -
Market Disturbance Evaluating the model's impact on market dynamics. -

This multi-faceted approach ensures that LLMs are thoroughly vetted across a broad spectrum of risks, fostering trust and reliability in their deployment.


The rapid growth of large language models (LLMs) has highlighted the essential need for thorough and reliable benchmarks. These benchmarks not only help in evaluating the capabilities of LLMs but also in identifying potential risks and ethical considerations.

Holistic AI, we are committed to assisting enterprises in navigating this intricate landscape with confidence. Our robust AI Governance Platform is designed to ensure that AI systems are both effective and ethical. By leveraging a diverse array of benchmarks—from capability-oriented to risk-oriented, and from RAG to multimodal systems—our Safeguard module helps organizations assess and mitigate risks, fostering the safe and responsible adoption of AI technologies.

To find out how we can help you and ensure that the development and deployment of LLMs are aligned with the highest standards of performance, safety, and ethics, get in touch with our experts.

DISCLAIMER: This blog article is for informational purposes only. This blog article is not intended to, and does not, provide legal advice or a legal opinion. It is not a do-it-yourself guide to resolving legal issues or handling litigation. This blog article is not a substitute for experienced legal counsel and does not provide legal advice regarding any situation or employer.

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