Xiaonan Li


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Backdoor Attacks on Pre-trained Models by Layerwise Weight Poisoning
Linyang Li | Demin Song | Xiaonan Li | Jiehang Zeng | Ruotian Ma | Xipeng Qiu
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-Trained Models have been widely applied and recently proved vulnerable under backdoor attacks: the released pre-trained weights can be maliciously poisoned with certain triggers. When the triggers are activated, even the fine-tuned model will predict pre-defined labels, causing a security threat. These backdoors generated by the poisoning methods can be erased by changing hyper-parameters during fine-tuning or detected by finding the triggers. In this paper, we propose a stronger weight-poisoning attack method that introduces a layerwise weight poisoning strategy to plant deeper backdoors; we also introduce a combinatorial trigger that cannot be easily detected. The experiments on text classification tasks show that previous defense methods cannot resist our weight-poisoning method, which indicates that our method can be widely applied and may provide hints for future model robustness studies.

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Accelerating BERT Inference for Sequence Labeling via Early-Exit
Xiaonan Li | Yunfan Shao | Tianxiang Sun | Hang Yan | 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 (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Both performance and efficiency are crucial factors for sequence labeling tasks in many real-world scenarios. Although the pre-trained models (PTMs) have significantly improved the performance of various sequence labeling tasks, their computational cost is expensive. To alleviate this problem, we extend the recent successful early-exit mechanism to accelerate the inference of PTMs for sequence labeling tasks. However, existing early-exit mechanisms are specifically designed for sequence-level tasks, rather than sequence labeling. In this paper, we first propose a simple extension of sentence-level early-exit for sequence labeling tasks. To further reduce the computational cost, we also propose a token-level early-exit mechanism that allows partial tokens to exit early at different layers. Considering the local dependency inherent in sequence labeling, we employed a window-based criterion to decide for a token whether or not to exit. The token-level early-exit brings the gap between training and inference, so we introduce an extra self-sampling fine-tuning stage to alleviate it. The extensive experiments on three popular sequence labeling tasks show that our approach can save up to 66%∼75% inference cost with minimal performance degradation. Compared with competitive compressed models such as DistilBERT, our approach can achieve better performance under the same speed-up ratios of 2×, 3×, and 4×.


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BERT for Monolingual and Cross-Lingual Reverse Dictionary
Hang Yan | Xiaonan Li | Xipeng Qiu | Bocao Deng
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Reverse dictionary is the task to find the proper target word given the word description. In this paper, we tried to incorporate BERT into this task. However, since BERT is based on the byte-pair-encoding (BPE) subword encoding, it is nontrivial to make BERT generate a word given the description. We propose a simple but effective method to make BERT generate the target word for this specific task. Besides, the cross-lingual reverse dictionary is the task to find the proper target word described in another language. Previous models have to keep two different word embeddings and learn to align these embeddings. Nevertheless, by using the Multilingual BERT (mBERT), we can efficiently conduct the cross-lingual reverse dictionary with one subword embedding, and the alignment between languages is not necessary. More importantly, mBERT can achieve remarkable cross-lingual reverse dictionary performance even without the parallel corpus, which means it can conduct the cross-lingual reverse dictionary with only corresponding monolingual data. Code is publicly available at https://github.com/yhcc/BertForRD.git.

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FLAT: Chinese NER Using Flat-Lattice Transformer
Xiaonan Li | Hang Yan | Xipeng Qiu | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Recently, the character-word lattice structure has been proved to be effective for Chinese named entity recognition (NER) by incorporating the word information. However, since the lattice structure is complex and dynamic, the lattice-based models are hard to fully utilize the parallel computation of GPUs and usually have a low inference speed. In this paper, we propose FLAT: Flat-LAttice Transformer for Chinese NER, which converts the lattice structure into a flat structure consisting of spans. Each span corresponds to a character or latent word and its position in the original lattice. With the power of Transformer and well-designed position encoding, FLAT can fully leverage the lattice information and has an excellent parallel ability. Experiments on four datasets show FLAT outperforms other lexicon-based models in performance and efficiency.


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Does it Make Sense? And Why? A Pilot Study for Sense Making and Explanation
Cunxiang Wang | Shuailong Liang | Yue Zhang | Xiaonan Li | Tian Gao
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Introducing common sense to natural language understanding systems has received increasing research attention. It remains a fundamental question on how to evaluate whether a system has the sense-making capability. Existing benchmarks measure common sense knowledge indirectly or without reasoning. In this paper, we release a benchmark to directly test whether a system can differentiate natural language statements that make sense from those that do not make sense. In addition, a system is asked to identify the most crucial reason why a statement does not make sense. We evaluate models trained over large-scale language modeling tasks as well as human performance, showing that there are different challenges for system sense-making.