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Do Adversarially Robust ImageNet Models Transfer Better?
Hadi Salman · Andrew Ilyas · Logan Engstrom · Ashish Kapoor · Aleksander Madry

Tue Dec 08 06:30 PM -- 06:45 PM (PST) @ Orals & Spotlights: Vision Applications

Transfer learning is a widely-used paradigm in deep learning, where models pre-trained on standard datasets can be efficiently adapted to downstream tasks. Typically, better pre-trained models yield better transfer results, suggesting that initial accuracy is a key aspect of transfer learning performance. In this work, we identify another such aspect: we find that adversarially robust models, while less accurate, often perform better than their standard-trained counterparts when used for transfer learning. Specifically, we focus on adversarially robust ImageNet classifiers, and show that they yield improved accuracy on a standard suite of downstream classification tasks. Further analysis uncovers more differences between robust and standard models in the context of transfer learning. Our results are consistent with (and in fact, add to) recent hypotheses stating that robustness leads to improved feature representations. Code and models is available in the supplementary material.

Author Information

Hadi Salman (Microsoft Research)
Andrew Ilyas (MIT)
Logan Engstrom (MIT)
Ashish Kapoor (Microsoft)
Aleksander Madry (MIT)

Aleksander Madry is the NBX Associate Professor of Computer Science in the MIT EECS Department and a principal investigator in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received his PhD from MIT in 2011 and, prior to joining the MIT faculty, he spent some time at Microsoft Research New England and on the faculty of EPFL. Aleksander's research interests span algorithms, continuous optimization, science of deep learning and understanding machine learning from a robustness perspective. His work has been recognized with a number of awards, including an NSF CAREER Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, an ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award Honorable Mention, and 2018 Presburger Award.

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