Yangyi Chen


2023

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A Close Look into the Calibration of Pre-trained Language Models
Yangyi Chen | Lifan Yuan | Ganqu Cui | Zhiyuan Liu | Heng Ji
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Pre-trained language models (PLMs) may fail in giving reliable estimates of their predictive uncertainty. We take a close look into this problem, aiming to answer two questions: (1) Do PLMs learn to become calibrated in the training process? (2) How effective are existing calibration methods? For the first question, we conduct fine-grained control experiments to study the dynamic change in PLMs’ calibration performance in training. We consider six factors as control variables, including dataset difficulty, available training samples, training steps, the number of tunable parameters, model scale, and pretraining. We observe a consistent change in calibration performance across six factors. We find that PLMs don’t learn to become calibrated in training, evidenced by the continual increase in confidence, no matter whether the predictions are correct or not. We highlight that our finding somewhat contradicts two established conclusions: (a) Larger PLMs are more calibrated; (b) Pretraining improves model calibration. Next, we study the effectiveness of existing calibration methods in mitigating the overconfidence issue. Besides unlearnable calibration methods (e.g., label smoothing), we adapt and extend two recently proposed learnable methods that directly collect data to train models to have reasonable confidence estimations. Experimental results show that learnable methods significantly reduce PLMs’ confidence in wrong predictions.

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Bridge the Gap Between CV and NLP! A Gradient-based Textual Adversarial Attack Framework
Lifan Yuan | YiChi Zhang | Yangyi Chen | Wei Wei
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Despite recent success on various tasks, deep learning techniques still perform poorly on adversarial examples with small perturbations. While optimization-based methods for adversarial attacks are well-explored in the field of computer vision, it is impractical to directly apply them in natural language processing due to the discrete nature of the text. To address the problem, we propose a unified framework to extend the existing optimization-based adversarial attack methods in the vision domain to craft textual adversarial samples. In this framework, continuously optimized perturbations are added to the embedding layer and amplified in the forward propagation process. Then the final perturbed latent representations are decoded with a masked language model head to obtain potential adversarial samples. In this paper, we instantiate our framework with an attack algorithm named Textual Projected Gradient Descent (T-PGD). We find our algorithm effective even using proxy gradient information. Therefore, we perform the more challenging transfer black-box attack and conduct comprehensive experiments to evaluate our attack algorithm with several models on three benchmark datasets. Experimental results demonstrate that our method achieves overall better performance and produces more fluent and grammatical adversarial samples compared to strong baseline methods. The code and data are available at https://github.com/Phantivia/T-PGD.

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From Adversarial Arms Race to Model-centric Evaluation: Motivating a Unified Automatic Robustness Evaluation Framework
Yangyi Chen | Hongcheng Gao | Ganqu Cui | Lifan Yuan | Dehan Kong | Hanlu Wu | Ning Shi | Bo Yuan | Longtao Huang | Hui Xue | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun | Heng Ji
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Textual adversarial attacks can discover models’ weaknesses by adding semantic-preserved but misleading perturbations to the inputs. The long-lasting adversarial attack-and-defense arms race in Natural Language Processing (NLP) is algorithm-centric, providing valuable techniques for automatic robustness evaluation. However, the existing practice of robustness evaluation may exhibit issues of incomprehensive evaluation, impractical evaluation protocol, and invalid adversarial samples. In this paper, we aim to set up a unified automatic robustness evaluation framework, shifting towards model-centric evaluation to further exploit the advantages of adversarial attacks. To address the above challenges, we first determine robustness evaluation dimensions based on model capabilities and specify the reasonable algorithm to generate adversarial samples for each dimension. Then we establish the evaluation protocol, including evaluation settings and metrics, under realistic demands. Finally, we use the perturbation degree of adversarial samples to control the sample validity. We implement a toolkit RobTest that realizes our automatic robustness evaluation framework. In our experiments, we conduct a robustness evaluation of RoBERTa models to demonstrate the effectiveness of our evaluation framework, and further show the rationality of each component in the framework.

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Making Pre-trained Language Models both Task-solvers and Self-calibrators
Yangyi Chen | Xingyao Wang | Heng Ji
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Pre-trained language models (PLMs) serve as backbones for various real-world systems. For high-stake applications, it’s equally essential to have reasonable confidence estimations in predictions. While the vanilla confidence scores of PLMs can already be effectively utilized, PLMs consistently become overconfident in their wrong predictions, which is not desirable in practice. Previous work shows that introducing an extra calibration task can mitigate this issue. The basic idea involves acquiring additional data to train models in predicting the confidence of their initial predictions. However, it only demonstrates the feasibility of this kind of method, assuming that there are abundant extra available samples for the introduced calibration task. In this work, we consider the practical scenario that we need to effectively utilize training samples to make PLMs both task-solvers and self-calibrators. Three challenges are presented, including limited training samples, data imbalance, and distribution shifts. We first conduct pilot experiments to quantify various decisive factors in the calibration task. Based on the empirical analysis results, we propose a training algorithm LM-TOAST to tackle the challenges. Experimental results show that LM-TOAST can effectively utilize the training data to make PLMs have reasonable confidence estimations while maintaining the original task performance. Further, we consider three downstream applications, namely selective classification, adversarial defense, and model cascading, to show the practical usefulness of LM-TOAST.

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Beat LLMs at Their Own Game: Zero-Shot LLM-Generated Text Detection via Querying ChatGPT
Biru Zhu | Lifan Yuan | Ganqu Cui | Yangyi Chen | Chong Fu | Bingxiang He | Yangdong Deng | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun | Ming Gu
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Large language models (LLMs), e.g., ChatGPT, have revolutionized the domain of natural language processing because of their excellent performance on various tasks. Despite their great potential, LLMs also incur serious concerns as they are likely to be misused. There are already reported cases of academic cheating by using LLMs. Thus, it is a pressing problem to identify LLM-generated texts. In this work, we design a zero-shot black-box method for detecting LLM-generated texts. The key idea is to revise the text to be detected using the ChatGPT model. Our method is based on the intuition that the ChatGPT model will make fewer revisions to LLM-generated texts than it does to human-written texts, because the texts generated by LLMs are more in accord with the generation logic and statistical patterns learned by LLMs like ChatGPT. Thus, if the text to be detected and its ChatGPT-revised version have a higher degree of similarity, the text is more likely to be LLM-generated. Extensive experiments on various datasets and tasks show that our method can effectively detect LLM-generated texts. Moreover, compared with other detection methods, our method has better generalization ability and is more stable across various datasets. The codes are publicly available at https://github.com/thunlp/LLM-generated-text-detection.

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ViStruct: Visual Structural Knowledge Extraction via Curriculum Guided Code-Vision Representation
Yangyi Chen | Xingyao Wang | Manling Li | Derek Hoiem | Heng Ji
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

State-of-the-art vision-language models (VLMs) still have limited performance in structural knowledge extraction, such as relations between objects. In this work, we present ViStruct, a training framework to learn VLMs for effective visual structural knowledge extraction. Two novel designs are incorporated. First, we propose to leverage the inherent structure of programming language to depict visual structural information. This approach enables explicit and consistent representation of visual structural information of multiple granularities, such as concepts, relations, and events, in a well-organized structured format. Second, we introduce curriculum-based learning for VLMs to progressively comprehend visual structures, from fundamental visual concepts to intricate event structures. Our intuition is that lower-level knowledge may contribute to complex visual structure understanding. Furthermore, we compile and release a collection of datasets tailored for visual structural knowledge extraction. We adopt a weakly-supervised approach to directly generate visual event structures from captions for ViStruct training, capitalizing on abundant image-caption pairs from the web. In experiments, we evaluate ViStruct on visual structure prediction tasks, demonstrating its effectiveness in improving the understanding of visual structures. The code will be made public to facilitate future research.

2022

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Textual Backdoor Attacks Can Be More Harmful via Two Simple Tricks
Yangyi Chen | Fanchao Qi | Hongcheng Gao | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Backdoor attacks are a kind of emergent security threat in deep learning. After being injected with a backdoor, a deep neural model will behave normally on standard inputs but give adversary-specified predictions once the input contains specific backdoor triggers. In this paper, we find two simple tricks that can make existing textual backdoor attacks much more harmful. The first trick is to add an extra training task to distinguish poisoned and clean data during the training of the victim model, and the second one is to use all the clean training data rather than remove the original clean data corresponding to the poisoned data. These two tricks are universally applicable to different attack models. We conduct experiments in three tough situations including clean data fine-tuning, low-poisoning-rate, and label-consistent attacks. Experimental results show that the two tricks can significantly improve attack performance. This paper exhibits the great potential harmfulness of backdoor attacks. All the code and data can be obtained at https://github.com/thunlp/StyleAttack.

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Why Should Adversarial Perturbations be Imperceptible? Rethink the Research Paradigm in Adversarial NLP
Yangyi Chen | Hongcheng Gao | Ganqu Cui | Fanchao Qi | Longtao Huang | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Textual adversarial samples play important roles in multiple subfields of NLP research, including security, evaluation, explainability, and data augmentation. However, most work mixes all these roles, obscuring the problem definitions and research goals of the security role that aims to reveal the practical concerns of NLP models. In this paper, we rethink the research paradigm of textual adversarial samples in security scenarios. We discuss the deficiencies in previous work and propose our suggestions that the research on the Security-oriented adversarial NLP (SoadNLP) should: (1) evaluate their methods on security tasks to demonstrate the real-world concerns; (2) consider real-world attackers’ goals, instead of developing impractical methods. To this end, we first collect, process, and release a security datasets collection Advbench. Then, we reformalize the task and adjust the emphasis on different goals in SoadNLP. Next, we propose a simple method based on heuristic rules that can easily fulfill the actual adversarial goals to simulate real-world attack methods. We conduct experiments on both the attack and the defense sides on Advbench. Experimental results show that our method has higher practical value, indicating that the research paradigm in SoadNLP may start from our new benchmark. All the code and data of Advbench can be obtained at https://github.com/thunlp/Advbench.

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Exploring the Universal Vulnerability of Prompt-based Learning Paradigm
Lei Xu | Yangyi Chen | Ganqu Cui | Hongcheng Gao | Zhiyuan Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Prompt-based learning paradigm bridges the gap between pre-training and fine-tuning, and works effectively under the few-shot setting. However, we find that this learning paradigm inherits the vulnerability from the pre-training stage, where model predictions can be misled by inserting certain triggers into the text. In this paper, we explore this universal vulnerability by either injecting backdoor triggers or searching for adversarial triggers on pre-trained language models using only plain text. In both scenarios, we demonstrate that our triggers can totally control or severely decrease the performance of prompt-based models fine-tuned on arbitrary downstream tasks, reflecting the universal vulnerability of the prompt-based learning paradigm. Further experiments show that adversarial triggers have good transferability among language models. We also find conventional fine-tuning models are not vulnerable to adversarial triggers constructed from pre-trained language models. We conclude by proposing a potential solution to mitigate our attack methods. Code and data are publicly available.

2021

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Hidden Killer: Invisible Textual Backdoor Attacks with Syntactic Trigger
Fanchao Qi | Mukai Li | Yangyi Chen | Zhengyan Zhang | Zhiyuan Liu | Yasheng Wang | Maosong Sun
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)

Backdoor attacks are a kind of insidious security threat against machine learning models. After being injected with a backdoor in training, the victim model will produce adversary-specified outputs on the inputs embedded with predesigned triggers but behave properly on normal inputs during inference. As a sort of emergent attack, backdoor attacks in natural language processing (NLP) are investigated insufficiently. As far as we know, almost all existing textual backdoor attack methods insert additional contents into normal samples as triggers, which causes the trigger-embedded samples to be detected and the backdoor attacks to be blocked without much effort. In this paper, we propose to use the syntactic structure as the trigger in textual backdoor attacks. We conduct extensive experiments to demonstrate that the syntactic trigger-based attack method can achieve comparable attack performance (almost 100% success rate) to the insertion-based methods but possesses much higher invisibility and stronger resistance to defenses. These results also reveal the significant insidiousness and harmfulness of textual backdoor attacks. All the code and data of this paper can be obtained at https://github.com/thunlp/HiddenKiller.

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Multi-granularity Textual Adversarial Attack with Behavior Cloning
Yangyi Chen | Jin Su | Wei Wei
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recently, the textual adversarial attack models become increasingly popular due to their successful in estimating the robustness of NLP models. However, existing works have obvious deficiencies. (1)They usually consider only a single granularity of modification strategies (e.g. word-level or sentence-level), which is insufficient to explore the holistic textual space for generation; (2) They need to query victim models hundreds of times to make a successful attack, which is highly inefficient in practice. To address such problems, in this paper we propose MAYA, a Multi-grAnularitY Attack model to effectively generate high-quality adversarial samples with fewer queries to victim models. Furthermore, we propose a reinforcement-learning based method to train a multi-granularity attack agent through behavior cloning with the expert knowledge from our MAYA algorithm to further reduce the query times. Additionally, we also adapt the agent to attack black-box models that only output labels without confidence scores. We conduct comprehensive experiments to evaluate our attack models by attacking BiLSTM, BERT and RoBERTa in two different black-box attack settings and three benchmark datasets. Experimental results show that our models achieve overall better attacking performance and produce more fluent and grammatical adversarial samples compared to baseline models. Besides, our adversarial attack agent significantly reduces the query times in both attack settings. Our codes are released at https://github.com/Yangyi-Chen/MAYA.

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Mind the Style of Text! Adversarial and Backdoor Attacks Based on Text Style Transfer
Fanchao Qi | Yangyi Chen | Xurui Zhang | Mukai Li | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Adversarial attacks and backdoor attacks are two common security threats that hang over deep learning. Both of them harness task-irrelevant features of data in their implementation. Text style is a feature that is naturally irrelevant to most NLP tasks, and thus suitable for adversarial and backdoor attacks. In this paper, we make the first attempt to conduct adversarial and backdoor attacks based on text style transfer, which is aimed at altering the style of a sentence while preserving its meaning. We design an adversarial attack method and a backdoor attack method, and conduct extensive experiments to evaluate them. Experimental results show that popular NLP models are vulnerable to both adversarial and backdoor attacks based on text style transfer—the attack success rates can exceed 90% without much effort. It reflects the limited ability of NLP models to handle the feature of text style that has not been widely realized. In addition, the style transfer-based adversarial and backdoor attack methods show superiority to baselines in many aspects. All the code and data of this paper can be obtained at https://github.com/thunlp/StyleAttack.

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ONION: A Simple and Effective Defense Against Textual Backdoor Attacks
Fanchao Qi | Yangyi Chen | Mukai Li | Yuan Yao | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Backdoor attacks are a kind of emergent training-time threat to deep neural networks (DNNs). They can manipulate the output of DNNs and possess high insidiousness. In the field of natural language processing, some attack methods have been proposed and achieve very high attack success rates on multiple popular models. Nevertheless, there are few studies on defending against textual backdoor attacks. In this paper, we propose a simple and effective textual backdoor defense named ONION, which is based on outlier word detection and, to the best of our knowledge, is the first method that can handle all the textual backdoor attack situations. Experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our model in defending BiLSTM and BERT against five different backdoor attacks. All the code and data of this paper can be obtained at https://github.com/thunlp/ONION.

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Automatic Construction of Sememe Knowledge Bases via Dictionaries
Fanchao Qi | Yangyi Chen | Fengyu Wang | Zhiyuan Liu | Xiao Chen | Maosong Sun
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021