Towards Understanding Fast Adversarial Training

Bai Li, Shiqi Wang, Suman Jana, Lawrence Carin

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Current neural-network-based classifiers are susceptible to adversarial examples. The most empirically successful approach to defending against such adversarial examples is adversarial training, which incorporates a strong self-attack during training to enhance its robustness. This approach, however, is computationally expensive and hence is hard to scale up. A recent work, called fast adversarial training, has shown that it is possible to markedly reduce computation time without sacrificing significant performance. This approach incorporates simple self-attacks, yet it can only run for a limited number of training epochs, resulting in sub-optimal performance. In this paper, we conduct experiments to understand the behavior of fast adversarial training and show the key to its success is the ability to recover from overfitting to weak attacks. We then extend our findings to improve fast adversarial training, demonstrating superior robust accuracy to strong adversarial training, with much-reduced training time.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArxiv preprint
StatePublished - Jun 4 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • cs.LG
  • stat.ML


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