LEACE: Perfect linear concept erasure in closed form

Nora Belrose, David Schneider-Joseph, Shauli Ravfogel, Ryan Cotterell, Edward Raff, Stella Biderman

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Concept erasure aims to remove specified features from a representation. It can improve fairness (e.g. preventing a classifier from using gender or race) and interpretability (e.g. removing a concept to observe changes in model behavior). We introduce LEAst-squares Concept Erasure (LEACE), a closed-form method which provably prevents all linear classifiers from detecting a concept while changing the representation as little as possible, as measured by a broad class of norms. We apply LEACE to large language models with a novel procedure called concept scrubbing, which erases target concept information from every layer in the network. We demonstrate our method on two tasks: measuring the reliance of language models on part-of-speech information, and reducing gender bias in BERT embeddings. Our code is available at https://github.com/EleutherAI/concept-erasure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
StatePublished - 2023
Event37th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2023 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 10 Dec 202316 Dec 2023

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