Overfitting in adversarially robust deep learning

Part of Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning 1 pre-proceedings (ICML 2020)

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Leslie Rice, Eric Wong, Zico Kolter


It is common practice in deep learning to use overparameterized networks and train for as long as possible; there are numerous studies that show, both theoretically and empirically, that such practices surprisingly do not unduly harm the generalization performance of the classifier. In this paper, we empirically study this phenomenon in the setting of adversarially trained deep networks, which are trained to minimize the loss under worst-case adversarial perturbations. We find that overfitting to the training set does in fact harm robust performance to a very large degree in adversarially robust training across multiple datasets (SVHN, CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and ImageNet) and perturbation models (L-infinity and L-2). Based upon this observed effect, we show that the performance gains of virtually all recent algorithmic improvements upon adversarial training can be matched by simply using early stopping. We also show that effects such as the double descent curve do still occur in adversarially trained models, yet fail to explain the observed overfitting. Finally, we study several classical and modern deep learning remedies for overfitting, including regularization and data augmentation, and find that no approach in isolation improves significantly upon the gains achieved by early stopping.