Robustly-reliable learners under poisoning attacks
Proceedings of Thirty Fifth Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 178:4498-4534, 2022.
Data poisoning attacks, in which an adversary corrupts a training set with the goal of inducing specific desired mistakes, have raised substantial concern: even just the possibility of such an attack can make a user no longer trust the results of a learning system. In this work, we analyze when strong robustness guarantees can be achieved even in the face of such attacks. We define and show how to provide robustly-reliable predictions, in which the predicted label is guaranteed to be correct so long as the adversary has not exceeded a given corruption budget, even in the presence of instance targeted attacks, where the adversary aims to cause a failure on specific test examples. Our guarantees are substantially stronger than those in prior approaches, which were only able to provide certificates that the prediction of the learning algorithm does not change, as opposed to certifying that the prediction is correct, as we do here. Remarkably, we provide a complete characterization of learnability in this setting, in particular, nearly-tight matching upper and lower bounds on the region that can be certified, as well as efficient algorithms for computing this region given an ERM oracle. Moreover, for the case of linear separators over logconcave distributions, we provide efficient truly polynomial time algorithms (i.e., non-oracle algorithms) for such robustly-reliable predictions. We also extend these results to the active setting where the algorithm adaptively asks for labels of specific informative examples, and the difficulty is that the adversary might even be adaptive to this interaction, as well as to the agnostic learning setting where there is no perfect classifier even over the uncorrupted data.