Prompt Engineering: Chain-of-Thought Prompting

Prompt Engineering: Chain-of-Thought Prompting
Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash


Chain-of-Thought Prompting is a powerful technique that allows you to understand and interact with AI systems on a deeper level. By prompting the AI to explain its reasoning and thought process, you can gain valuable insights into how it solves problems and makes decisions.

How to Use Chain-of-Thought Prompting

To use Chain-of-Thought Prompting, simply ask the AI to explain its reasoning in addition to providing an answer. Here are a few examples:

  • Instead of: "What is the capital of France?"
  • Try: "Explain how you would determine the capital of France."
  • Instead of: "Summarize this paragraph."
  • Try: "Walk me through the steps you would take to summarize this paragraph."
  • Instead of: "Translate this sentence into Spanish."
  • Try: "Show me how you would translate this sentence into Spanish, explaining the choices you make along the way."

Examples of Chain-of-Thought Prompting in Action

Example 1: Mathematical Reasoning

  • Prompt: "Solve the following equation: 2x + 5 = 13"
  • Chain of Thought:
    • "To solve for x, we need to isolate it on one side of the equation."
    • "First, we subtract 5 from both sides, which gives us 2x = 8."
    • "Then, we divide both sides by 2, which gives us x = 4."
  • Answer: "x = 4"

Example 2: Text Summarization

  • Prompt: "Summarize the following paragraph:"
  • Chain of Thought:
    • "The paragraph discusses the importance of renewable energy."
    • "It explains that renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are becoming increasingly important due to their environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness."
    • "It concludes by stating that the transition to renewable energy is essential for a sustainable future."
  • Summary: "Renewable energy sources are gaining importance due to their environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness. Transitioning to renewable energy is crucial for sustainability."

Example 3: Code Generation

  • Prompt: "Write a function that takes a list of numbers and returns the sum of the even numbers."
  • Chain of Thought:
    • "First, we need to create a variable to store the sum."
    • "Then, we need to iterate over the list and check if each number is even."
    • "If a number is even, we add it to the sum."
    • "Finally, we return the sum."
  • Code:
def sum_even_numbers(numbers):
    sum = 0
    for number in numbers:
        if number % 2 == 0:
            sum += number
    return sum


Chain-of-Thought Prompting is a versatile technique that can be used to gain insights into a wide range of AI tasks. By understanding how AI systems think, you can improve your communication with them, identify errors and biases, and develop more effective AI models.