Perceptual Attacks of No-Reference Image Quality Models with Human-in-the-Loop

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Weixia Zhang, Dingquan Li, Xiongkuo Min, Guangtao Zhai, Guodong Guo, Xiaokang Yang, Kede Ma


No-reference image quality assessment (NR-IQA) aims to quantify how humans perceive visual distortions of digital images without access to their undistorted references. NR-IQA models are extensively studied in computational vision, and are widely used for performance evaluation and perceptual optimization of man-made vision systems. Here we make one of the first attempts to examine the perceptual robustness of NR-IQA models. Under a Lagrangian formulation, we identify insightful connections of the proposed perceptual attack to previous beautiful ideas in computer vision and machine learning. We test one knowledge-driven and three data-driven NR-IQA methods under four full-reference IQA models (as approximations to human perception of just-noticeable differences). Through carefully designed psychophysical experiments, we find that all four NR-IQA models are vulnerable to the proposed perceptual attack. More interestingly, we observe that the generated counterexamples are not transferable, manifesting themselves as distinct design flows of respective NR-IQA methods. Source code are available at