Revisiting Residual Networks for Adversarial Robustness

Shihua Huang, Zhichao Lu, Kalyanmoy Deb, Vishnu Boddeti
IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2023 .


Efforts to improve the adversarial robustness of convolutional neural networks have primarily focused on developing more effective adversarial training methods. In contrast, little attention was devoted to analyzing the role of architectural elements (such as topology, depth, and width) on adversarial robustness. This paper seeks to bridge this gap and present a holistic study on the impact of architectural design on adversarial robustness. We focus on residual networks and consider architecture design at the block level, i.e., topology, kernel size, activation, and normalization, as well as at the network scaling level, i.e., depth and width of each block in the network. In both cases, we first derive insights through systematic ablative experiments. Then we design a robust residual block, dubbed RobustResBlock, and a compound scaling rule, dubbed RobustScaling, to distribute depth and width at the desired FLOP count. Finally, we combine RobustResBlock and RobustScaling and present a portfolio of adversarially robust residual networks, RobustResNets, spanning a broad spectrum of model capacities. Experimental validation across multiple datasets and adversarial attacks demonstrate that RobustResNets consistently outperform both the standard WRNs and other existing robust architectures, achieving state-of-the-art AutoAttack robust accuracy of 61.1% without additional data and 63.7% with 500K external data while being $2\times$ more compact in terms of parameters.


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