Google Research

The Convex Relaxation Barrier, Revisited: Tightened Single-Neuron Relaxations for Neural Network Verification

Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (2020), pp. 21675-21686


We improve the effectiveness of propagation- and linear-optimization-based neural network verification algorithms with a new tightened convex relaxation for ReLU neurons. Unlike previous single-neuron relaxations which focus only on the univariate input space of the ReLU, our method considers the multivariate input space of the affine pre-activation function preceding the ReLU. Using results from submodularity and convex geometry, we derive an explicit description of the tightest possible convex relaxation when this multivariate input is over a box domain. We show that our convex relaxation is significantly stronger than the commonly used univariate-input relaxation which has been proposed as a natural convex relaxation barrier for verification. While our description of the relaxation may require an exponential number of inequalities, we show that they can be separated in linear time and hence can be efficiently incorporated into optimization algorithms on an as-needed basis. Based on this novel relaxation, we design two polynomial-time algorithms for neural network verification: a linear-programming-based algorithm that leverages the full power of our relaxation, and a fast propagation algorithm that generalizes existing approaches. In both cases, we show that for a modest increase in computational effort, our strengthened relaxation enables us to verify a significantly larger number of instances compared to similar algorithms.

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