Eli Lifland


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TextAttack: A Framework for Adversarial Attacks, Data Augmentation, and Adversarial Training in NLP
John Morris | Eli Lifland | Jin Yong Yoo | Jake Grigsby | Di Jin | Yanjun Qi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

While there has been substantial research using adversarial attacks to analyze NLP models, each attack is implemented in its own code repository. It remains challenging to develop NLP attacks and utilize them to improve model performance. This paper introduces TextAttack, a Python framework for adversarial attacks, data augmentation, and adversarial training in NLP. TextAttack builds attacks from four components: a goal function, a set of constraints, a transformation, and a search method. TextAttack’s modular design enables researchers to easily construct attacks from combinations of novel and existing components. TextAttack provides implementations of 16 adversarial attacks from the literature and supports a variety of models and datasets, including BERT and other transformers, and all GLUE tasks. TextAttack also includes data augmentation and adversarial training modules for using components of adversarial attacks to improve model accuracy and robustness.TextAttack is democratizing NLP: anyone can try data augmentation and adversarial training on any model or dataset, with just a few lines of code. Code and tutorials are available at https://github.com/QData/TextAttack.

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Reevaluating Adversarial Examples in Natural Language
John Morris | Eli Lifland | Jack Lanchantin | Yangfeng Ji | Yanjun Qi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

State-of-the-art attacks on NLP models lack a shared definition of a what constitutes a successful attack. We distill ideas from past work into a unified framework: a successful natural language adversarial example is a perturbation that fools the model and follows some linguistic constraints. We then analyze the outputs of two state-of-the-art synonym substitution attacks. We find that their perturbations often do not preserve semantics, and 38% introduce grammatical errors. Human surveys reveal that to successfully preserve semantics, we need to significantly increase the minimum cosine similarities between the embeddings of swapped words and between the sentence encodings of original and perturbed sentences.With constraints adjusted to better preserve semantics and grammaticality, the attack success rate drops by over 70 percentage points.

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Searching for a Search Method: Benchmarking Search Algorithms for Generating NLP Adversarial Examples
Jin Yong Yoo | John Morris | Eli Lifland | Yanjun Qi
Proceedings of the Third BlackboxNLP Workshop on Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

We study the behavior of several black-box search algorithms used for generating adversarial examples for natural language processing (NLP) tasks. We perform a fine-grained analysis of three elements relevant to search: search algorithm, search space, and search budget. When new search algorithms are proposed in past work, the attack search space is often modified alongside the search algorithm. Without ablation studies benchmarking the search algorithm change with the search space held constant, one cannot tell if an increase in attack success rate is a result of an improved search algorithm or a less restrictive search space. Additionally, many previous studies fail to properly consider the search algorithms’ run-time cost, which is essential for downstream tasks like adversarial training. Our experiments provide a reproducible benchmark of search algorithms across a variety of search spaces and query budgets to guide future research in adversarial NLP. Based on our experiments, we recommend greedy attacks with word importance ranking when under a time constraint or attacking long inputs, and either beam search or particle swarm optimization otherwise.