Center Smoothing: Certified Robustness for Networks with Structured Outputs

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Aounon Kumar, Tom Goldstein


The study of provable adversarial robustness has mostly been limited to classification tasks and models with one-dimensional real-valued outputs. We extend the scope of certifiable robustness to problems with more general and structured outputs like sets, images, language, etc. We model the output space as a metric space under a distance/similarity function, such as intersection-over-union, perceptual similarity, total variation distance, etc. Such models are used in many machine learning problems like image segmentation, object detection, generative models, image/audio-to-text systems, etc. Based on a robustness technique called randomized smoothing, our center smoothing procedure can produce models with the guarantee that the change in the output, as measured by the distance metric, remains small for any norm-bounded adversarial perturbation of the input. We apply our method to create certifiably robust models with disparate output spaces -- from sets to images -- and show that it yields meaningful certificates without significantly degrading the performance of the base model.