Convergence of Adversarial Training in Overparametrized Neural Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Ruiqi Gao, Tianle Cai, Haochuan Li, Cho-Jui Hsieh, Liwei Wang, Jason D. Lee


Neural networks are vulnerable to adversarial examples, i.e. inputs that are imperceptibly perturbed from natural data and yet incorrectly classified by the network. Adversarial training \cite{madry2017towards}, a heuristic form of robust optimization that alternates between minimization and maximization steps, has proven to be among the most successful methods to train networks to be robust against a pre-defined family of perturbations. This paper provides a partial answer to the success of adversarial training, by showing that it converges to a network where the surrogate loss with respect to the the attack algorithm is within $\epsilon$ of the optimal robust loss. Then we show that the optimal robust loss is also close to zero, hence adversarial training finds a robust classifier. The analysis technique leverages recent work on the analysis of neural networks via Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK), combined with motivation from online-learning when the maximization is solved by a heuristic, and the expressiveness of the NTK kernel in the $\ell_\infty$-norm. In addition, we also prove that robust interpolation requires more model capacity, supporting the evidence that adversarial training requires wider networks.