InfoBERT: Improving Robustness of Language Models from An Information Theoretic Perspective

Boxin Wang · Shuohang Wang · Yu Cheng · Zhe Gan · Ruoxi Jia · Bo Li · Jingjing Liu

Keywords: [ QA ] [ NLI ] [ BERT ] [ adversarial robustness ] [ information theory ] [ adversarial training ]


Large-scale language models such as BERT have achieved state-of-the-art performance across a wide range of NLP tasks. Recent studies, however, show that such BERT-based models are vulnerable facing the threats of textual adversarial attacks. We aim to address this problem from an information-theoretic perspective, and propose InfoBERT, a novel learning framework for robust fine-tuning of pre-trained language models. InfoBERT contains two mutual-information-based regularizers for model training: (i) an Information Bottleneck regularizer, which suppresses noisy mutual information between the input and the feature representation; and (ii) a Robust Feature regularizer, which increases the mutual information between local robust features and global features. We provide a principled way to theoretically analyze and improve the robustness of representation learning for language models in both standard and adversarial training. Extensive experiments demonstrate that InfoBERT achieves state-of-the-art robust accuracy over several adversarial datasets on Natural Language Inference (NLI) and Question Answering (QA) tasks. Our code is available at

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