What it Thinks is Important is Important: Robustness Transfers through Input Gradients


TL;DR: By regularizing for similar input gradients, we can transfer adversarial robustness from a teacher to a student classifier even with different training dataset and model architecture.
Abstract: Adversarial perturbations are imperceptible changes to input pixels that can change the prediction of deep learning models. Learned weights of models robust to such perturbations are previously found to be transferable across different tasks but this applies only if the model architecture for the source and target tasks is the same. Input gradients characterize how small changes at each input pixel affect the model output. Using only natural images, we show here that training a student model's input gradients to match those of a robust teacher model can gain robustness close to a strong baseline that is robustly trained from scratch. Through experiments in MNIST, CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 and Tiny-ImageNet, we show that our proposed method, input gradient adversarial matching, can transfer robustness across different tasks and even across different model architectures. This demonstrates that directly targeting the semantics of input gradients is a feasible way towards adversarial robustness.

CVPR 2020 Oral Paper (IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition)