Lily Wong


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Practical Attacks on Machine Translation using Paraphrase
Elizabeth M Merkhofer | John Henderson | Abigail Gertner | Michael Doyle | Lily Wong
Proceedings of the 15th biennial conference of the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas (Volume 1: Research Track)

Studies show machine translation systems are vulnerable to adversarial attacks, where a small change to the input produces an undesirable change in system behavior. This work considers whether this vulnerability exists for attacks crafted with limited information about the target: without access to ground truth references or the particular MT system under attack. It also applies a higher threshold of success, taking into account both source language meaning preservation and target language meaning degradation. We propose an attack that generates edits to an input using a finite state transducer over lexical and phrasal paraphrases and selects one perturbation for meaning preservation and expected degradation of a target system. Attacks against eight state-of-the-art translation systems covering English-German, English-Czech and English-Chinese are evaluated under black-box and transfer scenarios, including cross-language and cross-system transfer. Results suggest that successful single-system attacks seldom transfer across models, especially when crafted without ground truth, but ensembles show promise for generalizing attacks.