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  1. Vision transformers (ViTs) have recently set off a new wave in neural architecture design thanks to their record-breaking performance in various vision tasks. In parallel, to fulfill the goal of deploying ViTs into real-world vision applications, their robustness against potential malicious attacks has gained increasing attention. In particular, recent works show that ViTs are more robust against adversarial attacks as compared with convolutional neural networks (CNNs), and conjecture that this is because ViTs focus more on capturing global interactions among different input/feature patches, leading to their improved robustness to local perturbations imposed by adversarial attacks. In this work, we ask an intriguing question: “Under what kinds of perturbations do ViTs become more vulnerable learners compared to CNNs?” Driven by this question, we first conduct a comprehensive experiment regarding the robustness of both ViTs and CNNs under various existing adversarial attacks to understand the underlying reason favoring their robustness. Based on the drawn insights, we then propose a dedicated attack framework, dubbed Patch-Fool, that fools the self-attention mechanism by attacking its basic component (i.e., a single patch) with a series of attention-aware optimization techniques. Interestingly, our Patch-Fool framework shows for the first time that ViTs are not necessarily more robust than CNNs against adversarial perturbations. In particular, we find that ViTs are more vulnerable learners compared with CNNs against our Patch-Fool attack which is consistent across extensive experiments, and the observations from Sparse/Mild Patch-Fool, two variants of Patch-Fool, indicate an intriguing insight that the perturbation density and strength on each patch seem to be the key factors that influence the robustness ranking between ViTs and CNNs. It can be expected that our Patch-Fool framework will shed light on both future architecture designs and training schemes for robustifying ViTs towards their real-world deployment. Our codes are available at https://github.com/RICE-EIC/Patch-Fool. 
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  2. Eye tracking has become an essential human-machine interaction modality for providing immersive experience in numerous virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) applications desiring high throughput (e.g., 240 FPS), small-form, and enhanced visual privacy. However, existing eye tracking systems are still limited by their: (1) large form-factor largely due to the adopted bulky lens-based cameras; (2) high communication cost required between the camera and backend processor; and (3) potentially concerned low visual privacy, thus prohibiting their more extensive applications. To this end, we propose, develop, and validate a lensless FlatCambased eye tracking algorithm and accelerator co-design framework dubbed EyeCoD to enable eye tracking systems with a much reduced form-factor and boosted system efficiency without sacrificing the tracking accuracy, paving the way for next-generation eye tracking solutions. On the system level, we advocate the use of lensless FlatCams instead of lens-based cameras to facilitate the small form-factor need in mobile eye tracking systems, which also leaves rooms for a dedicated sensing-processor co-design to reduce the required camera-processor communication latency. On the algorithm level, EyeCoD integrates a predict-then-focus pipeline that first predicts the region-of-interest (ROI) via segmentation and then only focuses on the ROI parts to estimate gaze directions, greatly reducing redundant computations and data movements. On the hardware level, we further develop a dedicated accelerator that (1) integrates a novel workload orchestration between the aforementioned segmentation and gaze estimation models, (2) leverages intra-channel reuse opportunities for depth-wise layers, (3) utilizes input feature-wise partition to save activation memory size, and (4) develops a sequential-write-parallel-read input buffer to alleviate the bandwidth requirement for the activation global buffer. On-silicon measurement and extensive experiments validate that our EyeCoD consistently reduces both the communication and computation costs, leading to an overall system speedup of 10.95×, 3.21×, and 12.85× over general computing platforms including CPUs and GPUs, and a prior-art eye tracking processor called CIS-GEP, respectively, while maintaining the tracking accuracy. Codes are available at https://github.com/RICE-EIC/EyeCoD. 
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