Fooling the classifier: Ligand antagonism and adversarial examples [article]

Thomas J Rademaker, Emmanuel Bengio, Paul Francois
2018 bioRxiv   pre-print
Machine learning algorithms are sensitive to so-called adversarial perturbations. This is reminiscent of cellular decision-making where antagonist ligands may prevent correct signaling, like during the early immune response. We draw a formal analogy between neural networks used in machine learning and the general class of adaptive proofreading networks. We then apply simple adversarial strategies from machine learning to models of ligand discrimination. We show how kinetic proofreading leads to
more » ... "boundary tilting" and identify three types of perturbation (adversarial, non adversarial and ambiguous). We then use a gradient-descent approach to compare different adaptive proofreading models, and we reveal the existence of two qualitatively different regimes characterized by the presence or absence of a critical point. These regimes are reminiscent of the "feature-to-prototype" transition identified in machine learning, corresponding to two strategies in ligand antagonism (broad vs. specialized). Overall, our work connects evolved cellular decision-making to classification in machine learning, showing that behaviours close to the decision boundary can be understood through the same mechanisms.
doi:10.1101/366724 fatcat:qal66hxrwvcxvmjx6v3jb6xhuq