- Abstract: Despite much effort, deep neural networks remain highly susceptible to tiny input perturbations and even for MNIST, one of the most common toy datasets in computer vision, no neural network model exists for which adversarial perturbations are large and make semantic sense to humans. We show that even the widely recognized and by far most successful L-inf defense by Madry et~al. (1) has lower L0 robustness than undefended networks and still highly susceptible to L2 perturbations, (2) classifies unrecognizable images with high certainty, (3) performs not much better than simple input binarization and (4) features adversarial perturbations that make little sense to humans. These results suggest that MNIST is far from being solved in terms of adversarial robustness. We present a novel robust classification model that performs analysis by synthesis using learned class-conditional data distributions. We derive bounds on the robustness and go to great length to empirically evaluate our model using maximally effective adversarial attacks by (a) applying decision-based, score-based, gradient-based and transfer-based attacks for several different Lp norms, (b) by designing a new attack that exploits the structure of our defended model and (c) by devising a novel decision-based attack that seeks to minimize the number of perturbed pixels (L0). The results suggest that our approach yields state-of-the-art robustness on MNIST against L0, L2 and L-inf perturbations and we demonstrate that most adversarial examples are strongly perturbed towards the perceptual boundary between the original and the adversarial class.
- Keywords: adversarial examples, MNIST, robustness, deep learning, security