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  1. Adversarial training augments the training set with perturbations to improve the robust error (over worst-case perturbations), but it often leads to an increase in the standard error (on unperturbed test inputs). Previous explanations for this tradeoff rely on the assumption that no predictor in the hypothesis class has low standard and robust error. In this work, we precisely characterize the effect of augmentation on the standard error in linear regression when the optimal linear predictor has zero standard and robust error. In particular, we show that the standard error could increase even when the augmented perturbations have noiseless observations from the optimal linear predictor. We then prove that the recently proposed robust self-training (RST) estimator improves robust error without sacrificing standard error for noiseless linear regression. Empirically, for neural networks, we find that RST with different adversarial training methods improves both standard and robust error for random and adversarial rotations and adversarial l_infty perturbations in CIFAR-10. 
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  2. When transferring a pretrained model to a downstream task, two popular methods are full fine-tuning (updating all the model parameters) and linear probing (updating only the last linear layer—the “head”). It is well known that fine-tuning leads to better accuracy in-distribution (ID). However, in this paper, we find that fine-tuning can achieve worse accuracy than linear probing out-of-distribution (OOD) when the pretrained features are good and the distribution shift is large. On 10 distribution shift datasets (Breeds-Living17, Breeds-Entity30, DomainNet, CIFAR → STL, CIFAR10.1, FMoW, ImageNetV2, ImageNet-R, ImageNet-A, ImageNet-Sketch), fine-tuning obtains on average 2% higher accuracy ID but 7% lower accuracy OOD than linear probing. We show theoretically that this tradeoff between ID and OOD accuracy arises even in a simple setting: fine-tuning overparameterized two-layer linear networks. We prove that the OOD error of fine-tuning is high when we initialize with a fixed or random head—this is because while fine-tuning learns the head, the lower layers of the neural network change simultaneously and distort the pretrained features. Our analysis suggests that the easy two-step strategy of linear probing then full fine-tuning (LP-FT), sometimes used as a fine-tuning heuristic, combines the benefits of both fine-tuning and linear probing. Empirically, LP-FT outperforms both fine-tuning and linear probing on the above datasets (1% better ID, 10% better OOD than full fine-tuning). 
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  3. When transferring a pretrained model to a downstream task, two popular methods are full fine-tuning (updating all the model parameters) and linear probing (updating only the last linear layer -- the "head"). It is well known that fine-tuning leads to better accuracy in-distribution (ID). However, in this paper, we find that fine-tuning can achieve worse accuracy than linear probing out-of-distribution (OOD) when the pretrained features are good and the distribution shift is large. On 10 distribution shift datasets (Breeds-Living17, Breeds-Entity30, DomainNet, CIFAR → STL, CIFAR10.1, FMoW, ImageNetV2, ImageNet-R, ImageNet-A, ImageNet-Sketch), fine-tuning obtains on average 2% higher accuracy ID but 7% lower accuracy OOD than linear probing. We show theoretically that this tradeoff between ID and OOD accuracy arises even in a simple setting: fine-tuning overparameterized two-layer linear networks. We prove that the OOD error of fine-tuning is high when we initialize with a fixed or random head -- this is because while fine-tuning learns the head, the lower layers of the neural network change simultaneously and distort the pretrained features. Our analysis suggests that the easy two-step strategy of linear probing then full fine-tuning (LP-FT), sometimes used as a fine-tuning heuristic, combines the benefits of both fine-tuning and linear probing. Empirically, LP-FT outperforms both fine-tuning and linear probing on the above datasets (1% better ID, 10% better OOD than full fine-tuning). 
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  4. Despite excellent performance on many tasks, NLP systems are easily fooled by small adversarial perturbations of inputs. Existing procedures to defend against such perturbations are either (i) heuristic in nature and susceptible to stronger attacks or (ii) provide guaranteed robustness to worst-case attacks, but are incompatible with state-of-the-art models like BERT. In this work, we introduce robust encodings (RobEn): a simple framework that confers guaranteed robustness, without making compromises on model architecture. The core component of RobEn is an encoding function, which maps sentences to a smaller, discrete space of encodings. Systems using these encodings as a bottleneck confer guaranteed robustness with standard training, and the same encodings can be used across multiple tasks. We identify two desiderata to construct robust encoding functions: perturbations of a sentence should map to a small set of encodings (stability), and models using encodings should still perform well (fidelity). We instantiate RobEn to defend against a large family of adversarial typos. Across six tasks from GLUE, our instantiation of RobEn paired with BERT achieves an average robust accuracy of 71.3% against all adversarial typos in the family considered, while previous work using a typo-corrector achieves only 35.3% accuracy against a simple greedy attack. 
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  5. Despite excellent performance on many tasks, NLP systems are easily fooled by small adversarial perturbations of inputs. Existing procedures to defend against such perturbations are either (i) heuristic in nature and susceptible to stronger attacks or (ii) provide guaranteed robustness to worst-case attacks, but are incompatible with state-of-the-art models like BERT. In this work, we introduce robust encodings (RobEn): a simple framework that confers guaranteed robustness, without making compromises on model architecture. The core component of RobEn is an encoding function, which maps sentences to a smaller, discrete space of encodings. Systems using these encodings as a bottleneck confer guaranteed robustness with standard training, and the same encodings can be used across multiple tasks. We identify two desiderata to construct robust encoding functions: perturbations of a sentence should map to a small set of encodings (stability), and models using encodings should still perform well (fidelity). We instantiate RobEn to defend against a large family of adversarial typos. Across six tasks from GLUE, our instantiation of RobEn paired with BERT achieves an average robust accuracy of 71.3% against all adversarial typos in the family considered, while previous work using a typo-corrector achieves only 35.3% accuracy against a simple greedy attack. 
    more » « less
  6. Despite excellent performance on many tasks, NLP systems are easily fooled by small adversarial perturbations of inputs. Existing procedures to defend against such perturbations are either (i) heuristic in nature and susceptible to stronger attacks or (ii) provide guaranteed robustness to worst-case attacks, but are incompatible with state-of-the-art models like BERT. In this work, we introduce robust encodings (RobEn): a simple framework that confers guaranteed robustness, without making compromises on model architecture. The core component of RobEn is an encoding function, which maps sentences to a smaller, discrete space of encodings. Systems using these encodings as a bottleneck confer guaranteed robustness with standard training, and the same encodings can be used across multiple tasks. We identify two desiderata to construct robust encoding functions: perturbations of a sentence should map to a small set of encodings (stability), and models using encodings should still perform well (fidelity). We instantiate RobEn to defend against a large family of adversarial typos. Across six tasks from GLUE, our instantiation of RobEn paired with BERT achieves an average robust accuracy of 71.3% against all adversarial typos in the family considered, while previous work using a typo-corrector achieves only 35.3% accuracy against a simple greedy attack. 
    more » « less
  7. Adversarial training augments the training set with perturbations to improve the robust error (over worst-case perturbations), but it often leads to an increase in the standard error (on unperturbed test inputs). Previous explanations for this tradeoff rely on the assumption that no predictor in the hypothesis class has low standard and robust error. In this work, we precisely characterize the effect of augmentation on the standard error in linear regression when the optimal linear predictor has zero standard and robust error. In particular, we show that the standard error could increase even when the augmented perturbations have noiseless observations from the optimal linear predictor. We then prove that the recently proposed robust self-training (RST) estimator improves robust error without sacrificing standard error for noiseless linear regression. Empirically, for neural networks, we find that RST with different adversarial training methods improves both standard and robust error for random and adversarial rotations and adversarial l_infty perturbations in CIFAR-10. 
    more » « less
  8. Adversarial training augments the training set with perturbations to improve the robust error (over worst-case perturbations), but it often leads to an increase in the standard error (on unperturbed test inputs). Previous explanations for this tradeoff rely on the assumption that no predictor in the hypothesis class has low standard and robust error. In this work, we precisely characterize the effect of augmentation on the standard error in linear regression when the optimal linear predictor has zero standard and robust error. In particular, we show that the standard error could increase even when the augmented perturbations have noiseless observations from the optimal linear predictor. We then prove that the recently proposed robust self-training (RST) estimator improves robust error without sacrificing standard error for noiseless linear regression. Empirically, for neural networks, we find that RST with different adversarial training methods improves both standard and robust error for random and adversarial rotations and adversarial ℓ∞ perturbations in CIFAR-10. 
    more » « less