I am a Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Department at Purdue University, advised by Professor Xiangyu Zhang. I also work closely with Professor Wenbo Guo. Before joining Purdue, I obtained my master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and my bachelor’s degree from University of Science and Technology Beijing.
My research interests lie in machine learning security, especially backdoor attacks and defenses and using reinformcement learning to solve complex security problems.
MSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2020
Carnegie Mellon University
BSc in Electrical Engineering, 2019
University of Science and Technology Beijing
Backdoor attacks pose a severe threat to the supply chain management of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) policies. Despite initial defenses proposed in recent studies, these methods have very limited generalizability and scalability. To address this issue, we propose BIRD, a technique to detect and remove backdoors from a pretrained DRL policy in a clean environment without requiring any knowledge about the attack specifications and accessing its training process. By analyzing the unique properties and behaviors of backdoor attacks, we formulate trigger restoration as an optimization problem and design a novel metric to detect backdoored policies. We also design a finetuning method to remove the backdoor, while maintaining the agent’s performance in the clean environment. We evaluate BIRD against three backdoor attacks in ten different single-agent or multi-agent environments. Our results verify the effectiveness, efficiency, and generalizability of BIRD, as well as its robustness to different attack variations and adaptions.
Backdoor attacks have emerged as a prominent threat to natural language processing (NLP) models, where the presence of specific triggers in the input can lead poisoned models to misclassify these inputs to predetermined target classes. Current detection mechanisms are limited by their inability to address more covert backdoor strategies, such as style-based attacks. In this work, we propose an innovative test-time poisoned sample detection framework that hinges on the interpretability of model predictions, grounded in the semantic meaning of inputs. We contend that triggers (e.g., infrequent words) are not supposed to fundamentally alter the underlying semantic meanings of poisoned samples as they want to stay stealthy. Based on this observation, we hypothesize that while the model’s predictions for paraphrased clean samples should remain stable, predictions for poisoned samples should revert to their true labels upon the mutations applied to triggers during the paraphrasing process. We employ ChatGPT, a state-of-the-art large language model, as our paraphraser and formulate the trigger-removal task as a prompt engineering problem. We adopt fuzzing, a technique commonly used for unearthing software vulnerabilities, to discover optimal paraphrase prompts that can effectively eliminate triggers while concurrently maintaining input semantics. Experiments on 4 types of backdoor attacks, including the subtle style backdoors, and 4 distinct datasets demonstrate that our approach surpasses baseline methods, including STRIP, RAP, and ONION, in precision and recall.
While Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) are becoming the state-of-the-art for many tasks including reinforcement learning (RL), they are especially resistant to human scrutiny and understanding. Input attributions have been a foundational building block for DNN expalainabilty but face new challenges when applied to deep RL. We address the challenges with two novel techniques. We define a class of behaviour-level attributions for explaining agent behaviour beyond input importance and interpret existing attribution methods on the behaviour level. We then introduce lambda-alignment, a metric for evaluating the performance of behaviour-level attributions methods in terms of whether they are indicative of the agent actions they are meant to explain. Our experiments on Atari games suggest that perturbation-based attribution methods are significantly more suitable to deep RL than alternatives from the perspective of this metric. We argue that our methods demonstrate the minimal set of considerations for adopting general DNN explanation technology to the unique aspects of reinforcement learning and hope the outlined direction can serve as a basis for future research on understanding Deep RL using attribution.