Error Correcting Output Codes Improve Probability Estimation and Adversarial Robustness of Deep Neural Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Gunjan Verma, Ananthram Swami


Modern machine learning systems are susceptible to adversarial examples; inputs which clearly preserve the characteristic semantics of a given class, but whose classification is (usually confidently) incorrect. Existing approaches to adversarial defense generally rely on modifying the input, e.g. quantization, or the learned model parameters, e.g. via adversarial training. However, recent research has shown that most such approaches succumb to adversarial examples when different norms or more sophisticated adaptive attacks are considered. In this paper, we propose a fundamentally different approach which instead changes the way the output is represented and decoded. This simple approach achieves state-of-the-art robustness to adversarial examples for L 2 and L ∞ based adversarial perturbations on MNIST and CIFAR10. In addition, even under strong white-box attacks, we find that our model often assigns adversarial examples a low probability; those with high probability are usually interpretable, i.e. perturbed towards the perceptual boundary between the original and adversarial class. Our approach has several advantages: it yields more meaningful probability estimates, is extremely fast during training and testing, requires essentially no architectural changes to existing discriminative learning pipelines, is wholly complementary to other defense approaches including adversarial training, and does not sacrifice benign test set performance