Transfer Learning without Knowing: Reprogramming Black-box Machine Learning Models with Scarce Data and Limited Resources

Jul 12, 2020

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Current transfer learning methods are mainly based on finetuning a pretrained model with target-domain data. Motivated by the techniques from adversarial machine learning (ML) that are capable of manipulating the model prediction via data perturbations, in this paper we propose a novel approach, black-box adversarial reprogramming (BAR), that repurposes a well-trained black-box ML model (e.g., a prediction API or a proprietary software) for solving different ML tasks, especially in the scenario with scarce data and constrained resources. The rationale lies in exploiting high-performance but unknown ML models to gain learning capability for transfer learning. Using zeroth order optimization and multi-label mapping techniques, BAR can reprogram a black-box ML model solely based on its input-output responses without knowing the model architecture or changing any parameter. More importantly, in the limited medical data setting, on autism spectrum disorder classification, diabetic retinopathy detection, and melanoma detection tasks, BAR outperforms state-of-the-art methods and yields comparable performance to the vanilla adversarial reprogramming method requiring complete knowledge of the target ML model. BAR also outperforms baseline transfer learning approaches by a significant margin, demonstrating cost-effective means and new insights for transfer learning.

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The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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