Alvin Chan is a postdoctoral fellow in Prof Giovanni Traverso's team, at MIT & Harvard Medical School (Brigham and Women's Hospital), to work on designing medical nanoparticles with deep learning. His research interests center around making AI technologies beneficial and safe for humanity, encompassing topics like generative modeling, adversarial learning and deep learning for medical applications. In his free time, he enjoys rock-climbing, jogging and attending tech meetups.
PhD in Computer Science, 2021
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
BEng in Bioengineering, 2013
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
TL;DR: How do we generate sequences that extrapolate beyond the training distribution?
Abstract: Attribute extrapolation in sample generation is challenging for deep neural networks operating beyond the training distribution. We formulate a new task for extrapolation in sequence generation, focusing on natural language and proteins, and propose GENhance, a generative framework that enhances attributes through a learned latent space. Trained on movie reviews and a computed protein stability dataset, GENhance can generate strongly-positive text reviews and highly stable protein sequences without being exposed to similar data during training.
TL;DR: We propose CoCon to control the content of text generation from LMs by conditioning on content inputs at an interleave layer.
Abstract: Pretrained Transformer-based language models (LMs) display remarkable natural language generation capabilities. With their immense potential, controlling text generation of such LMs is getting attention. While there are studies that seek to control high-level attributes (such as sentiment and topic) of generated text, there is still a lack of more precise control over its content at the word- and phrase-level. Here, we propose Content-Conditioner (CoCon) to control an LM's output text with a content input, at a fine-grained level. In our self-supervised approach, the CoCon block learns to help the LM complete a partially-observed text sequence by conditioning with content inputs that are withheld from the LM. Through experiments, we show that CoCon can naturally incorporate target content into generated texts and control high-level text attributes in a zero-shot manner.
TL;DR: We propose a new parameterization of hypercomplex multiplications for architectural flexibility and effectiveness.
Abstract: Recent works have demonstrated reasonable success of representation learning in hypercomplex space. Specifically, the Hamilton product (4D hypercomplex multiplication) enables learning effective representations while saving up to 75% parameters. However, one key caveat is that hypercomplex space only exists at very few predefined dimensions. This restricts the flexibility of models that leverage hypercomplex multiplications. To this end, we propose parameterizing hypercomplex multiplications, allowing models to learn multiplication rules from data regardless of whether such rules are predefined. As a result, our method not only subsumes the Hamilton product, but also learns to operate on any arbitrary nD hypercomplex space, providing more architectural flexibility. Experiments of applications to LSTM and Transformer on natural language inference, machine translation, text style transfer, and subject verb agreement demonstrate architectural flexibility and effectiveness of the proposed approach.
TL;DR: We construct an RNA alternative splicing regression dataset (CAPD) and propose DCEN to predict splicing outcomes by modeling mRNA transcript probabilities through its constituent splice junctions’ energy.
Abstract: A single gene can encode for different protein versions through a process called alternative splicing. Since proteins play major roles in cellular functions, aberrant splicing profiles can result in a variety of diseases, including cancers. Alternative splicing is determined by the gene's primary sequence and other regulatory factors such as RNA-binding protein levels. With these as input, we formulate the prediction of RNA splicing as a regression task and build a new training dataset (CAPD) to benchmark learned models. We propose discrete compositional energy network (DCEN) which leverages the hierarchical relationships between splice sites, junctions and transcripts to approach this task. In the case of alternative splicing prediction, DCEN models mRNA transcript probabilities through its constituent splice junctions’ energy values. These transcript probabilities are subsequently mapped to relative abundance values of key nucleotides and trained with ground-truth experimental measurements. Through our experiments on CAPD, we show that DCEN outperforms baselines and ablation variants.
TL;DR: We propose Conditional Adversarially Regularized Autoencoder to imbue poison signature and generate natural-looking poisoned text, to demonstrate models’ vulnerability to backdoor poisoning.
Abstract: This paper demonstrates a fatal vulnerability in natural language inference (NLI) and text classification systems. More concretely, we present a ‘backdoor poisoning’ attack on NLP models. Our poisoning attack utilizes conditional adversarially regularized autoencoder (CARA) to generate poisoned training samples by poison injection in latent space. Just by adding 1% poisoned data, our experiments show that a victim BERT finetuned classifier's predictions can be steered to the poison target class with success rates of >80% when the input hypothesis is injected with the poison signature, demonstrating that NLI and text classification systems face a huge security risk.
TL;DR: By regularizing for similar input gradients, we can transfer adversarial robustness from a teacher to a student classifier even with different training dataset and model architecture.
Abstract: Adversarial perturbations are imperceptible changes to input pixels that can change the prediction of deep learning models. Learned weights of models robust to such perturbations are previously found to be transferable across different tasks but this applies only if the model architecture for the source and target tasks is the same. Input gradients characterize how small changes at each input pixel affect the model output. Using only natural images, we show here that training a student model's input gradients to match those of a robust teacher model can gain robustness close to a strong baseline that is robustly trained from scratch. Through experiments in MNIST, CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 and Tiny-ImageNet, we show that our proposed method, input gradient adversarial matching, can transfer robustness across different tasks and even across different model architectures. This demonstrates that directly targeting the semantics of input gradients is a feasible way towards adversarial robustness.
TL;DR: We show that training classifiers to produce salient input Jacobian matrices with a GAN-like regularization can boost adversarial robustness.
Abstract: Adversarial examples are crafted with imperceptible perturbations with the intent to fool neural networks. Against such attacks, adversarial training and its variants stand as the strongest defense to date. Previous studies have pointed out that robust models that have undergone adversarial training tend to produce more salient and interpretable Jacobian matrices than their non-robust counterparts. A natural question is whether a model trained with an objective to produce salient Jacobian can result in better robustness. This paper answers this question with affirmative empirical results. We propose Jacobian Adversarially Regularized Networks (JARN) as a method to optimize the saliency of a classifier's Jacobian by adversarially regularizing the model's Jacobian to resemble natural training images. Image classifiers trained with JARN show improved robust accuracy compared to standard models on the MNIST, SVHN and CIFAR-10 datasets, uncovering a new angle to boost robustness without using adversarial training.