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Publication# Towards Verifiable, Generalizable and Efficient Robust Deep Neural Networks.

Résumé

In the last decade, deep neural networks have achieved tremendous success in many fields of machine learning.However, they are shown vulnerable against adversarial attacks: well-designed, yet imperceptible, perturbations can make the state-of-the-art deep neural networks output incorrect results.Understanding adversarial attacks and designing algorithms to make deep neural networks robust against these attacks are key steps to building reliable artificial intelligence in real-life applications.In this thesis, we will first formulate the robust learning problem.Based on the notations of empirical robustness and verified robustness, we design new algorithms to achieve both of these types of robustness.Specifically, we investigate the robust learning problem from the optimization perspectives.Compared with classic empirical risk minimization, we show the slow convergence and large generalization gap in robust learning.Our theoretical and numerical analysis indicates that these challenges arise, respectively, from non-smooth loss landscapes and model's fitting hard adversarial instances.Our insights shed some light on designing algorithms for mitigating these challenges.Robust learning has other challenges, such as large model capacity requirements and high computational complexity.To solve the model capacity issue, we combine robust learning with model compression.We design an algorithm to obtain sparse and binary neural networks and make it robust.To decrease the computational complexity, we accelerate the existing adversarial training algorithm and preserve its performance stability.In addition to making models robust, our research provides other benefits.Our methods demonstrate that robust models, compared with non-robust ones, usually utilize input features in a way more similar to the way human beings use them, hence the robust models are more interpretable.To obtain verified robustness, our methods indicate the geometric similarity of the decision boundaries near data points.Our approaches towards reliable artificial intelligence can not only render deep neural networks more robust in safety-critical applications but also make us better aware of how they work.

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Deep neural networks have achieved impressive results in many image classification tasks. However, since their performance is usually measured in controlled settings, it is important to ensure that their decisions remain correct when deployed in noisy environments. In fact, deep networks are not robust to a large variety of semantic-preserving image modifications, even to imperceptible image changes -- known as adversarial perturbations -- that can arbitrarily flip the prediction of a classifier. The poor robustness of image classifiers to small data distribution shifts raises serious concerns regarding their trustworthiness. To build reliable machine learning models, we must design principled methods to analyze and understand the mechanisms that shape robustness and invariance. This is exactly the focus of this thesis.First, we study the problem of computing sparse adversarial perturbations, and exploit the geometry of the decision boundaries of image classifiers for computing sparse perturbations very fast. We evaluate the robustness of deep networks to sparse adversarial perturbations in high-dimensional datasets, and reveal a qualitative correlation between the location of the perturbed pixels and the semantic features of the images. Such correlation suggests a deep connection between adversarial examples and the data features that image classifiers learn.To better understand this connection, we provide a geometric framework that connects the distance of data samples to the decision boundary, with the features existing in the data. We show that deep classifiers have a strong inductive bias towards invariance to non-discriminative features, and that adversarial training exploits this property to confer robustness. We demonstrate that the invariances of robust classifiers are useful in data-scarce domains, while the improved understanding of the data influence on the inductive bias of deep networks can be exploited to design more robust classifiers. Finally, we focus on the challenging problem of generalization to unforeseen corruptions of the data, and we propose a novel data augmentation scheme that relies on simple families of max-entropy image transformations to confer robustness to common corruptions. We analyze our method and demonstrate the importance of the mixing strategy on synthesizing corrupted images, and we reveal the robustness-accuracy trade-offs arising in the context of common corruptions. The controllable nature of our method permits to easily adapt it to other tasks and achieve robustness to distribution shifts in data-scarce applications.Overall, our results contribute to the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of deep image classifiers, and pave the way for building more reliable machine learning systems that can be deployed in real-world environments.

One of the main goal of Artificial Intelligence is to develop models capable of providing valuable predictions in real-world environments. In particular, Machine Learning (ML) seeks to design such models by learning from examples coming from this same environment. However, the real world is most of the time not static, and the environment in which the model will be used can differ from the one in which it is trained. It is hence desirable to design models that are robust to changes of environments. This encapsulates a large family of topics in ML, such as adversarial robustness, meta-learning, domain adaptation and others, depending on the way the environment is perturbed.In this dissertation, we focus on methods for training models whose performance does not drastically degrade when applied to environments differing from the one the model has been trained in. Various types of environmental changes will be treated, differing in their structure or magnitude. Each setup defines a certain kind of robustness to certain environmental changes, and leads to a certain optimization problem to be solved. We consider 3 different setups, and propose algorithms for solving each associated problem using 3 different types of methods, namely, min-max optimization (Chapter 2), regularization (Chapter 3) and variable selection (Chapter 4).Leveraging the framework of distributionally robust optimization, which phrases the problem of robust training as a min-max optimization problem, we first aim to train robust models by directly solving the associated min-max problem. This is done by exploiting recent work on game theory as well as first-order sampling algorithms based on Langevin dynamics. Using this approach, we propose a method for training robust agents in the scope of Reinforcement Learning.We then treat the case of adversarial robustness, i.e., robustness to small arbitrary perturbation of the model's input. It is known that neural networks trained using classical optimization methods are particularly sensitive to this type of perturbations. The adversarial robustness of a model is tightly connected to its smoothness, which is quantified by its so-called Lipschitz constant. This constant measures how much the model's output changes upon any bounded input perturbation. We hence develop a method to estimate an upper bound on the Lipschitz constant of neural networks via polynomial optimization, which can serve as a robustness certificate against adversarial attacks. We then propose to penalize the Lipschitz constant during training by minimizing the 1-path-norm of the neural network, and we develop an algorithm for solving the resulting regularized problem by efficiently computing the proximal operator of the 1-path-norm term, which is non-smooth and non-convex.Finally, we consider a scenario where the environmental changes can be arbitrary large (as opposed to adversarial robustness), but need to preserve a certain causal structure. Recent works have demonstrated interesting connections between robustness and the use of causal variables. Assuming that certain mechanisms remain invariant under some change of the environment, it has been shown that knowing the underlying causal structure of the data at hand allows to train models that are invariant to such changes. Unfortunately, in many cases, the causal structure is unknown. We thus propose a causal discovery algorithm from observational data in the case of non-linear additive model.

The way our brain learns to disentangle complex signals into unambiguous concepts is fascinating but remains largely unknown. There is evidence, however, that hierarchical neural representations play a key role in the cortex. This thesis investigates biologically plausible models of unsupervised learning of hierarchical representations as found in the brain and modern computer vision models. We use computational modeling to address three main questions at the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and computational neuroscience.The first question is: What are useful neural representations and when are deep hierarchical representations needed? We approach this point with a systematic study of biologically plausible unsupervised feature learning in a shallow 2-layer networks on digit (MNIST) and object (CIFAR10) classification. Surprisingly, random features support high performance, especially for large hidden layers. When combined with localized receptive fields, random feature networks approach the performance of supervised backpropagation on MNIST, but not on CIFAR10. We suggest that future models of biologically plausible learning should outperform such random feature benchmarks on MNIST, or that such models should be evaluated in different ways.The second question is: How can hierarchical representations be learned with mechanisms supported by neuroscientific evidence? We cover this question by proposing a unifying Hebbian model, inspired by common models of V1 simple and complex cells based on unsupervised sparse coding and temporal invariance learning. In shallow 2-layer networks, our model reproduces learning of simple and complex cell receptive fields, as found in V1. In deeper networks, we stack multiple layers of Hebbian learning but find that it does not yield hierarchical representations of increasing usefulness. From this, we hypothesise that standard Hebbian rules are too constrained to build increasingly useful representations, as observed in higher areas of the visual cortex or deep artificial neural networks.The third question is: Can AI inspire learning models that build deep representations and are still biologically plausible? We address this question by proposing a learning rule that takes inspiration from neuroscience and recent advances in self-supervised deep learning. The proposed rule is Hebbian, i.e. only depends on pre- and post-synaptic neuronal activity, but includes additional local factors, namely predictive dendritic input and widely broadcasted modulation factors. Algorithmically, this rule applies self-supervised contrastive predictive learning to a causal, biological setting using saccades. We find that networks trained with this generalised Hebbian rule build deep hierarchical representations of images, speech and video.We see our modeling as a potential starting point for both, new hypotheses, that can be tested experimentally, and novel AI models that could benefit from added biological realism.