Measure and Improve Robustness in NLP Models: A Survey
Xuezhi Wang | Haohan Wang | Diyi Yang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies
As NLP models achieved state-of-the-art performances over benchmarks and gained wide applications, it has been increasingly important to ensure the safe deployment of these models in the real world, e.g., making sure the models are robust against unseen or challenging scenarios. Despite robustness being an increasingly studied topic, it has been separately explored in applications like vision and NLP, with various definitions, evaluation and mitigation strategies in multiple lines of research. In this paper, we aim to provide a unifying survey of how to define, measure and improve robustness in NLP. We first connect multiple definitions of robustness, then unify various lines of work on identifying robustness failures and evaluating models’ robustness. Correspondingly, we present mitigation strategies that are data-driven, model-driven, and inductive-prior-based, with a more systematic view of how to effectively improve robustness in NLP models. Finally, we conclude by outlining open challenges and future directions to motivate further research in this area.
Statistical natural language inference (NLI) models are susceptible to learning dataset bias: superficial cues that happen to associate with the label on a particular dataset, but are not useful in general, e.g., negation words indicate contradiction. As exposed by several recent challenge datasets, these models perform poorly when such association is absent, e.g., predicting that “I love dogs.” contradicts “I don’t love cats.”. Our goal is to design learning algorithms that guard against known dataset bias. We formalize the concept of dataset bias under the framework of distribution shift and present a simple debiasing algorithm based on residual fitting, which we call DRiFt. We first learn a biased model that only uses features that are known to relate to dataset bias. Then, we train a debiased model that fits to the residual of the biased model, focusing on examples that cannot be predicted well by biased features only. We use DRiFt to train three high-performing NLI models on two benchmark datasets, SNLI and MNLI. Our debiased models achieve significant gains over baseline models on two challenge test sets, while maintaining reasonable performance on the original test sets.