Towards Designing Robust Deep Learning Models for 3D Understanding

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation presents novel methods for addressing important challenges related to the robustness of Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) for 3D understanding and in 3D setups. Our research focuses on two main areas, adversarial robustness on 3D data and setups and the robustness of DNNs to realistic 3D scenarios. One paradigm for 3D understanding is to represent 3D as a set of 3D points and learn functions on this set directly. Our first work, AdvPC, addresses the issue of limited transferability and ease of defense against current 3D point cloud adversarial attacks. By using a point cloud Auto-Encoder to generate more transferable attacks, AdvPC surpasses state-of-the-art attacks by a large margin on 3D point cloud attack transferability. Additionally, AdvPC increases the ability to break defenses by up to 38\% as compared to other baseline attacks on the ModelNet40 dataset. Another paradigm of 3D understanding is to perform 2D processing of multiple images of the 3D data. The second work, MVTN, addresses the problem of selecting viewpoints for 3D shape recognition using a Multi-View Transformation Network (MVTN) to learn optimal viewpoints. It combines MVTN with multi-view approaches leading to state-of-the-art results on standard benchmarks ModelNet40, ShapeNet Core55, and ScanObjectNN. MVTN also improves robustness to realistic scenarios like rotation and occlusion. Our third work analyzes the Semantic Robustness of 2D Deep Neural Networks, addressing the problem of high sensitivity toward semantic primitives in DNNs by visualizing the DNN global behavior as semantic maps and observing the interesting behavior of some DNNs. Additionally, we develop a bottom-up approach to detect robust regions of DNNs for scalable semantic robustness analysis and benchmarking of different DNNs. The fourth work, SADA, showcases the problem of lack of robustness in DNNs specifically for the safety-critical applications of autonomous navigation, beyond the simple classification setup. We present a general framework (BBGAN) for black-box adversarial attacks on trained agents, which covers semantic perturbations to the environment of the agent performing the task. BBGAN is trained to generate failure cases that consistently fool a trained agent on tasks such as object detection, self-driving, and autonomous UAV racing.
Date of AwardApr 2023
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorBernard Ghanem (Supervisor)


  • computer vision
  • 3D understanding
  • robustness
  • deep learning
  • deep neural networks
  • adversarial robustness

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