Rui Zheng


2023

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Modeling the Q-Diversity in a Min-max Play Game for Robust Optimization
Ting Wu | Rui Zheng | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Models trained with empirical risk minimization (ERM) are revealed to easily rely on spurious correlations, resulting in poor generalization. Group distributionally robust optimization (group DRO) can alleviate this problem by minimizing the worst-case loss over pre-defined groups. While promising, in practice factors like expensive annotations and privacy preclude the availability of group labels. More crucially, when taking a closer look at the failure modes of out-of-distribution generalization, the typical procedure of reweighting in group DRO loses efficiency. Hinged on the limitations, in this work, we reformulate the group DRO framework by proposing Q-Diversity. Characterized by an interactive training mode, Q-Diversity relaxes the group identification from annotation into direct parameterization. Furthermore, a novel mixing strategy across groups is presented to diversify the under-represented groups. In a series of experiments on both synthetic and real-world text classification tasks, results demonstrate that Q-Diversity can consistently improve worst-case accuracy under different distributional shifts, outperforming state-of-the-art alternatives.

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Characterizing the Impacts of Instances on Robustness
Rui Zheng | Zhiheng Xi | Qin Liu | Wenbin Lai | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang | Jin Ma | Ying Shan | Weifeng Ge
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Building robust deep neural networks (DNNs) against adversarial attacks is an important but challenging task. Previous defense approaches mainly focus on developing new model structures or training algorithms, but they do little to tap the potential of training instances, especially instances with robust patterns carring innate robustness. In this paper, we show that robust and non-robust instances in the training dataset, though are both important for test performance, have contrary impacts on robustness, which makes it possible to build a highly robust model by leveraging the training dataset in a more effective way. We propose a new method that can distinguish between robust instances from non-robust ones according to the model’s sensitivity to perturbations on individual instances during training. Surprisingly, we find that the model under standard training easily overfits the robust instances by relying on their simple patterns before the model completely learns their robust features. Finally, we propose a new mitigation algorithm to further release the potential of robust instances. Experimental results show that proper use of robust instances in the original dataset is a new line to achieve highly robust models.

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Detecting Adversarial Samples through Sharpness of Loss Landscape
Rui Zheng | Shihan Dou | Yuhao Zhou | Qin Liu | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Zhongyu Wei | Xuanjing Huang | Menghan Zhang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have been proven to be sensitive towards perturbations on input samples, and previous works highlight that adversarial samples are even more vulnerable than normal ones. In this work, this phenomenon is illustrated frWe first show that adversarial samples locate in steep and narrow local minima of the loss landscape (high sharpness) while normal samples, which differs distinctly from adversarial ones, reside in the loss surface that is more flatter (low sharpness).om the perspective of sharpness via visualizing the input loss landscape of models. Based on this, we propose a simple and effective sharpness-based detector to distinct adversarial samples by maximizing the loss increment within the region where the inference sample is located. Considering that the notion of sharpness of a loss landscape is relative, we further propose an adaptive optimization strategy in an attempt to fairly compare the relative sharpness among different samples. Experimental results show that our approach can outperform previous detection methods by large margins (average +6.6 F1 score) for four advanced attack strategies considered in this paper across three text classification tasks.

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Connectivity Patterns are Task Embeddings
Zhiheng Xi | Rui Zheng | Yuansen Zhang | Xuanjing Huang | Zhongyu Wei | Minlong Peng | Mingming Sun | Qi Zhang | Tao Gui
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Task embeddings are task-specific vectors designed to construct a semantic space of tasks, which can be used to predict the most transferable source task for a given target task via the similarity between task embeddings. However, existing methods use optimized parameters and representations as task embeddings, resulting in substantial computational complexity and storage requirements. In this work, we draw inspiration from the operating mechanism of deep neural networks (DNNs) and biological brains, where neuronal activations are sparse and task-specific, and we use the connectivity patterns of neurons as a unique identifier associated with the task. The proposed method learns to assign importance masks for sub-structures of DNNs, and accordingly indicate the task-specific connectivity patterns. In addition to the storage advantages brought by the binary masking mechanism and structured sparsity, the early-bird nature of the sparse optimization process can deliver an efficient computation advantage. Experiments show that our method consistently outperforms other baselines in predicting inter-task transferability across data regimes and transfer settings, while keeping high efficiency in computation and storage.

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Loose lips sink ships: Mitigating Length Bias in Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback
Wei Shen | Rui Zheng | Wenyu Zhan | Jun Zhao | Shihan Dou | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Reinforcement learning from human feedback serves as a crucial bridge, aligning large language models with human and societal values. This alignment requires a vast corpus of human feedback to learn a reward model, which is subsequently used to finetune language models. However, we have identified that the reward model often finds shortcuts to bypass its intended objectives, misleadingly assuming that humans prefer longer responses. The emergence of length bias often induces the model to favor longer outputs, yet it doesn’t equate to an increase in helpful information within these outputs. In this paper, we propose an innovative solution, applying the Product-of-Experts (PoE) technique to separate reward modeling from the influence of sequence length. In our framework, the main expert concentrates on understanding human intents, while the biased expert targets the identification and capture of length bias. To further enhance the learning of bias, we introduce perturbations into the bias-focused expert, disrupting the flow of semantic information. Experimental results validate the effectiveness of our approach, indicating that language model performance is improved, irrespective of sequence length.

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RealBehavior: A Framework for Faithfully Characterizing Foundation Models’ Human-like Behavior Mechanisms
Enyu Zhou | Rui Zheng | Zhiheng Xi | Songyang Gao | Xiaoran Fan | Zichu Fei | Jingting Ye | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Reports of human-like behaviors in foundation models are growing, with psychological theories providing enduring tools to investigate these behaviors. However, current research tends to directly apply these human-oriented tools without verifying the faithfulness of their outcomes. In this paper, we introduce a framework, RealBehavior, which is designed to characterize the humanoid behaviors of models faithfully. Beyond simply measuring behaviors, our framework assesses the faithfulness of results based on reproducibility, internal and external consistency, and generalizability. Our findings suggest that a simple application of psychological tools cannot faithfully characterize all human-like behaviors. Moreover, we discuss the impacts of aligning models with human and social values, arguing for the necessity of diversifying alignment objectives to prevent the creation of models with restricted characteristics.

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Orthogonal Subspace Learning for Language Model Continual Learning
Xiao Wang | Tianze Chen | Qiming Ge | Han Xia | Rong Bao | Rui Zheng | Qi Zhang | Tao Gui | Xuanjing Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Benefiting from massive corpora and advanced hardware, large language models (LLMs) exhibit remarkable capabilities in language understanding and generation. However, their performance degrades in scenarios where multiple tasks are encountered sequentially, also known as catastrophic forgetting. In this paper, we propose orthogonal low-rank adaptation (O-LoRA), a simple and efficient approach for continual learning in language models, effectively mitigating catastrophic forgetting while learning new tasks. Specifically, O-LoRA learns tasks in different (low-rank) vector subspaces that are kept orthogonal to each other in order to minimize interference. Our method induces only marginal additional parameter costs and requires no user data storage for replay. Experimental results on continual learning benchmarks show that our method outperforms state-of-the-art methods. Furthermore, compared to previous approaches, our method excels in preserving the generalization ability of LLMs on unseen tasks.

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Self-Polish: Enhance Reasoning in Large Language Models via Problem Refinement
Zhiheng Xi | Senjie Jin | Yuhao Zhou | Rui Zheng | Songyang Gao | Jia Liu | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

To enhance the multi-step reasoning capabilities of large language models, researchers have extensively explored prompting methods, notably the Chain-of-Thought (CoT) method which explicitly elicits human-like rationales. However, they have inadvertently overlooked the potential of enhancing model reasoning performance by formulating higher-quality problems. In this work, we start from the problem side and propose Self-Polish (SP), a novel method that facilitates the model’s reasoning by guiding it to progressively refine the given problems to be more comprehensible and solvable. We also explore several automatic prompting varients and propose the Self-Polish prompt bank for the community. SP is orthogonal to all other prompting methods of answer/reasoning side like CoT, allowing for seamless integration with state-of-the-art techniques for further improvement. Thorough experiments show that the proposed method attains notable and consistent effectiveness on five reasoning benchmarks across different models. Furthermore, our method also showcases impressive performance on robustness evaluation. Codes and prompts are available at https://github.com/WooooDyy/Self-Polish.

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CASN:Class-Aware Score Network for Textual Adversarial Detection
Rong Bao | Rui Zheng | Liang Ding | Qi Zhang | Dacheng Tao
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Adversarial detection aims to detect adversarial samples that threaten the security of deep neural networks, which is an essential step toward building robust AI systems. Density-based estimation is widely considered as an effective technique by explicitly modeling the distribution of normal data and identifying adversarial ones as outliers. However, these methods suffer from significant performance degradation when the adversarial samples lie close to the non-adversarial data manifold. To address this limitation, we propose a score-based generative method to implicitly model the data distribution. Our approach utilizes the gradient of the log-density data distribution and calculates the distribution gap between adversarial and normal samples through multi-step iterations using Langevin dynamics. In addition, we use supervised contrastive learning to guide the gradient estimation using label information, which avoids collapsing to a single data manifold and better preserves the anisotropy of the different labeled data distributions. Experimental results on three text classification tasks upon four advanced attack algorithms show that our approach is a significant improvement (average +15.2 F1 score against previous SOTA) over previous detection methods.

2022

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Robust Lottery Tickets for Pre-trained Language Models
Rui Zheng | Bao Rong | Yuhao Zhou | Di Liang | Sirui Wang | Wei Wu | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recent works on Lottery Ticket Hypothesis have shown that pre-trained language models (PLMs) contain smaller matching subnetworks(winning tickets) which are capable of reaching accuracy comparable to the original models. However, these tickets are proved to be notrobust to adversarial examples, and even worse than their PLM counterparts. To address this problem, we propose a novel method based on learning binary weight masks to identify robust tickets hidden in the original PLMs. Since the loss is not differentiable for the binary mask, we assign the hard concrete distribution to the masks and encourage their sparsity using a smoothing approximation of L0 regularization. Furthermore, we design an adversarial loss objective to guide the search for robust tickets and ensure that the tickets perform well bothin accuracy and robustness. Experimental results show the significant improvement of the proposed method over previous work on adversarial robustness evaluation.

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Flooding-X: Improving BERT’s Resistance to Adversarial Attacks via Loss-Restricted Fine-Tuning
Qin Liu | Rui Zheng | Bao Rong | Jingyi Liu | ZhiHua Liu | Zhanzhan Cheng | Liang Qiao | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Adversarial robustness has attracted much attention recently, and the mainstream solution is adversarial training. However, the tradition of generating adversarial perturbations for each input embedding (in the settings of NLP) scales up the training computational complexity by the number of gradient steps it takes to obtain the adversarial samples. To address this problem, we leverage Flooding method which primarily aims at better generalization and we find promising in defending adversarial attacks. We further propose an effective criterion to bring hyper-parameter-dependent flooding into effect with a narrowed-down search space by measuring how the gradient steps taken within one epoch affect the loss of each batch. Our approach requires zero adversarial sample for training, and its time consumption is equivalent to fine-tuning, which can be 2-15 times faster than standard adversarial training. We experimentally show that our method improves BERT’s resistance to textual adversarial attacks by a large margin, and achieves state-of-the-art robust accuracy on various text classification and GLUE tasks.

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Decorrelate Irrelevant, Purify Relevant: Overcome Textual Spurious Correlations from a Feature Perspective
Shihan Dou | Rui Zheng | Ting Wu | SongYang Gao | Junjie Shan | Qi Zhang | Yueming Wu | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Natural language understanding (NLU) models tend to rely on spurious correlations (i.e., dataset bias) to achieve high performance on in-distribution datasets but poor performance on out-of-distribution ones. Most of the existing debiasing methods often identify and weaken these samples with biased features (i.e., superficial surface features that cause such spurious correlations). However, down-weighting these samples obstructs the model in learning from the non-biased parts of these samples. To tackle this challenge, in this paper, we propose to eliminate spurious correlations in a fine-grained manner from a feature space perspective. Specifically, we introduce Random Fourier Features and weighted re-sampling to decorrelate the dependencies between features to mitigate spurious correlations. After obtaining decorrelated features, we further design a mutual-information-based method to purify them, which forces the model to learn features that are more relevant to tasks. Extensive experiments on two well-studied NLU tasks demonstrate that our method is superior to other comparative approaches.

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PlugAT: A Plug and Play Module to Defend against Textual Adversarial Attack
Rui Zheng | Rong Bao | Qin Liu | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang | Rui Xie | Wei Wu
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Adversarial training, which minimizes the loss of adversarially perturbed examples, has received considerable attention. However, these methods require modifying all model parameters and optimizing the model from scratch, which is parameter inefficient and unfriendly to the already deployed models. As an alternative, we propose a pluggable defense module PlugAT, to provide robust predictions by adding a few trainable parameters to the model inputs while keeping the original model frozen. To reduce the potential side effects of using defense modules, we further propose a novel forgetting restricted adversarial training, which filters out bad adversarial examples that impair the performance of original ones. The PlugAT-equipped BERT model substantially improves robustness over several strong baselines on various text classification tasks, whilst training only 9.1% parameters. We observe that defense modules trained under the same model architecture have domain adaptation ability between similar text classification datasets.

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Efficient Adversarial Training with Robust Early-Bird Tickets
Zhiheng Xi | Rui Zheng | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Adversarial training is one of the most powerful methods to improve the robustness of pre-trained language models (PLMs). However, this approach is typically more expensive than traditional fine-tuning because of the necessity to generate adversarial examples via gradient descent. Delving into the optimization process of adversarial training, we find that robust connectivity patterns emerge in the early training phase (typically 0.15~0.3 epochs), far before parameters converge. Inspired by this finding, we dig out robust early-bird tickets (i.e., subnetworks) to develop an efficient adversarial training method: (1) searching for robust tickets with structured sparsity in the early stage; (2) fine-tuning robust tickets in the remaining time. To extract the robust tickets as early as possible, we design a ticket convergence metric to automatically terminate the searching process. Experiments show that the proposed efficient adversarial training method can achieve up to 7× ∼ 13 × training speedups while maintaining comparable or even better robustness compared to the most competitive state-of-the-art adversarial training methods.

2021

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TextFlint: Unified Multilingual Robustness Evaluation Toolkit for Natural Language Processing
Xiao Wang | Qin Liu | Tao Gui | Qi Zhang | Yicheng Zou | Xin Zhou | Jiacheng Ye | Yongxin Zhang | Rui Zheng | Zexiong Pang | Qinzhuo Wu | Zhengyan Li | Chong Zhang | Ruotian Ma | Zichu Fei | Ruijian Cai | Jun Zhao | Xingwu Hu | Zhiheng Yan | Yiding Tan | Yuan Hu | Qiyuan Bian | Zhihua Liu | Shan Qin | Bolin Zhu | Xiaoyu Xing | Jinlan Fu | Yue Zhang | Minlong Peng | Xiaoqing Zheng | Yaqian Zhou | Zhongyu Wei | Xipeng Qiu | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

TextFlint is a multilingual robustness evaluation toolkit for NLP tasks that incorporates universal text transformation, task-specific transformation, adversarial attack, subpopulation, and their combinations to provide comprehensive robustness analyses. This enables practitioners to automatically evaluate their models from various aspects or to customize their evaluations as desired with just a few lines of code. TextFlint also generates complete analytical reports as well as targeted augmented data to address the shortcomings of the model in terms of its robustness. To guarantee acceptability, all the text transformations are linguistically based and all the transformed data selected (up to 100,000 texts) scored highly under human evaluation. To validate the utility, we performed large-scale empirical evaluations (over 67,000) on state-of-the-art deep learning models, classic supervised methods, and real-world systems. The toolkit is already available at https://github.com/textflint with all the evaluation results demonstrated at textflint.io.