Lewis Griffin


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Identifying Human Strategies for Generating Word-Level Adversarial Examples
Maximilian Mozes | Bennett Kleinberg | Lewis Griffin
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Adversarial examples in NLP are receiving increasing research attention. One line of investigation is the generation of word-level adversarial examples against fine-tuned Transformer models that preserve naturalness and grammaticality. Previous work found that human- and machine-generated adversarial examples are comparable in their naturalness and grammatical correctness. Most notably, humans were able to generate adversarial examples much more effortlessly than automated attacks. In this paper, we provide a detailed analysis of exactly how humans create these adversarial examples. By exploring the behavioural patterns of human workers during the generation process, we identify statistically significant tendencies based on which words humans prefer to select for adversarial replacement (e.g., word frequencies, word saliencies, sentiment) as well as where and when words are replaced in an input sequence. With our findings, we seek to inspire efforts that harness human strategies for more robust NLP models.


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Frequency-Guided Word Substitutions for Detecting Textual Adversarial Examples
Maximilian Mozes | Pontus Stenetorp | Bennett Kleinberg | Lewis Griffin
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Recent efforts have shown that neural text processing models are vulnerable to adversarial examples, but the nature of these examples is poorly understood. In this work, we show that adversarial attacks against CNN, LSTM and Transformer-based classification models perform word substitutions that are identifiable through frequency differences between replaced words and their corresponding substitutions. Based on these findings, we propose frequency-guided word substitutions (FGWS), a simple algorithm exploiting the frequency properties of adversarial word substitutions for the detection of adversarial examples. FGWS achieves strong performance by accurately detecting adversarial examples on the SST-2 and IMDb sentiment datasets, with F1 detection scores of up to 91.4% against RoBERTa-based classification models. We compare our approach against a recently proposed perturbation discrimination framework and show that we outperform it by up to 13.0% F1.

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Contrasting Human- and Machine-Generated Word-Level Adversarial Examples for Text Classification
Maximilian Mozes | Max Bartolo | Pontus Stenetorp | Bennett Kleinberg | Lewis Griffin
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Research shows that natural language processing models are generally considered to be vulnerable to adversarial attacks; but recent work has drawn attention to the issue of validating these adversarial inputs against certain criteria (e.g., the preservation of semantics and grammaticality). Enforcing constraints to uphold such criteria may render attacks unsuccessful, raising the question of whether valid attacks are actually feasible. In this work, we investigate this through the lens of human language ability. We report on crowdsourcing studies in which we task humans with iteratively modifying words in an input text, while receiving immediate model feedback, with the aim of causing a sentiment classification model to misclassify the example. Our findings suggest that humans are capable of generating a substantial amount of adversarial examples using semantics-preserving word substitutions. We analyze how human-generated adversarial examples compare to the recently proposed TextFooler, Genetic, BAE and SememePSO attack algorithms on the dimensions naturalness, preservation of sentiment, grammaticality and substitution rate. Our findings suggest that human-generated adversarial examples are not more able than the best algorithms to generate natural-reading, sentiment-preserving examples, though they do so by being much more computationally efficient.