Overcoming the Convex Barrier for Simplex Inputs

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

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Harkirat Singh Behl, M. Pawan Kumar, Philip Torr, Krishnamurthy Dvijotham


Recent progress in neural network verification has challenged the notion of a convex barrier, that is, an inherent weakness in the convex relaxation of the output of a neural network. Specifically, there now exists a tight relaxation for verifying the robustness of a neural network to $\ell_\infty$ input perturbations, as well as efficient primal and dual solvers for the relaxation. Buoyed by this success, we consider the problem of developing similar techniques for verifying robustness to input perturbations within the probability simplex. We prove a somewhat surprising result that, in this case, not only can one design a tight relaxation that overcomes the convex barrier, but the size of the relaxation remains linear in the number of neurons, thereby leading to simpler and more efficient algorithms. We establish the scalability of our overall approach via the specification of $\ell_1$ robustness for CIFAR-10 and MNIST classification, where our approach improves the state of the art verified accuracy by up to $14.4\%$. Furthermore, we establish its accuracy on a novel and highly challenging task of verifying the robustness of a multi-modal (text and image) classifier to arbitrary changes in its textual input.