Inherent Adversarial Robustness of Deep Spiking Neural Networks: Effects of Discrete Input Encoding and Non-Linear Activations

Saima Sharmin, Nitin Rathi, Priyadarshini Panda, Kaushik Roy ;


In the recent quest for trustworthy neural networks, we present Spiking Neural Network (SNN) as a potential candidate for inherent robustness against adversarial attacks. In this work, we demonstrate that adversarial accuracy of SNNs under gradient-based attacks is higher than their non-spiking counterparts for CIFAR datasets on deep VGG and ResNet architectures, particularly in blackbox attack scenario. We at-tribute this robustness to two fundamental characteristics of SNNs and analyze their effects. First, we exhibit that input discretization introduced by the Poisson encoder improves adversarial robustness with reduced number of timesteps. Second, we quantify the amount of adversarial accuracy with increased leak rate in Leaky-Integrate-Fire (LIF) neurons. Our results suggest that SNNs trained with LIF neurons and smaller number of timesteps are more robust than the ones with IF (Integrate-Fire) neurons and larger number of timesteps. Also we overcome the bottleneck of creating gradient-based adversarial inputs in temporal domain by proposing a technique for crafting attacks from SNN"

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