Towards a safety case for hardware-fault tolerance in convolutional neural networks using activation range supervision

Florian Geissler, Syed Qutub, Sayanta Roychowdhury, Ali Asgari, Yang Peng, Akash Dhamasia, Ralf Graefe, Karthik Pattabiraman and Michael Paulitsch, AI Safety Workshop 2021, Best Paper Award Nominee (1 of 4) [ PDF | Talk ] (arXIV)

Abstract: Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have become an established part of numerous safety-critical computer vision applications, including human robot interactions and automated driving. Real-world implementations will need to guarantee their robustness against hardware soft errors corrupting the underlying platform memory. Based on the previously observed efficacy of activation clipping techniques, we build a prototypical safety case for classifier CNNs by demonstrating that range supervision represents a highly reliable fault detector and mitigator with respect to relevant bit flips, adopting an eight-exponent floating point data representation. We further explore novel, non-uniform range restriction methods that effectively suppress the probability of silent data corruptions and uncorrectable errors. As a safety-relevant end-to-end use case, we showcase the benefit of our approach in a vehicle classification scenario, using ResNet-50 and the traffic camera data set MIOVision. The quantitative evidence provided in this work can be leveraged to inspire further and possibly more complex CNN safety arguments.

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