Revisiting Visual Model Robustness: A Frequency Long-Tailed Distribution View

Zhiyu Lin · Yifei Gao · Yunfan Yang · Jitao Sang

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #802
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Thu 14 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


A widely discussed hypothesis regarding the cause of visual models' lack of robustness is that they can exploit human-imperceptible high-frequency components (HFC) in images, which in turn leads to model vulnerabilities, such as the adversarial examples. However, (1) inconsistent findings regarding the validation of this hypothesis reflect in a limited understanding of HFC, and (2) solutions inspired by the hypothesis tend to involve a robustness-accuracy trade-off and leaning towards suppressing the model's learning on HFC. In this paper, inspired by the long-tailed characteristic observed in frequency spectrum, we first formally define the HFC from long-tailed perspective and then revisit the relationship between HFC and model robustness. In the frequency long-tailed scenario, experimental results on common datasets and various network structures consistently indicate that models in standard training exhibit high sensitivity to HFC. We investigate the reason of the sensitivity, which reflects in model's under-fitting behavior on HFC. Furthermore, the cause of the model's under-fitting behavior is attributed to the limited information content in HFC. Based on these findings, we propose a Balance Spectrum Sampling (BaSS) strategy, which effectively counteracts the long-tailed effect and enhances the model's learning on HFC. Extensive experimental results demonstrate that our method achieves a substantially better robustness-accuracy trade-off when combined with existing defense methods, while also indicating the potential of encouraging HFC learning in improving model performance.

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