Provable Robustness of Adversarial Training for Learning Halfspaces with Noise

Difan Zou · Spencer Frei · Quanquan Gu

[ Abstract ] [ Livestream: Visit Learning Theory 4 ] [ Paper ]
Wed 21 Jul 6:40 a.m. — 6:45 a.m. PDT

We analyze the properties of adversarial training for learning adversarially robust halfspaces in the presence of agnostic label noise. Denoting $\mathsf{OPT}_{p,r}$ as the best classification error achieved by a halfspace that is robust to perturbations of $\ell^{p}$ balls of radius $r$, we show that adversarial training on the standard binary cross-entropy loss yields adversarially robust halfspaces up to classification error $\tilde O(\sqrt{\mathsf{OPT}_{2,r}})$ for $p=2$, and $\tilde O(d^{1/4} \sqrt{\mathsf{OPT}_{\infty, r}})$ when $p=\infty$. Our results hold for distributions satisfying anti-concentration properties enjoyed by log-concave isotropic distributions among others. We additionally show that if one instead uses a non-convex sigmoidal loss, adversarial training yields halfspaces with an improved robust classification error of $O(\mathsf{OPT}_{2,r})$ for $p=2$, and $O(d^{1/4} \mathsf{OPT}_{\infty, r})$ when $p=\infty$. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work showing that adversarial training provably yields robust classifiers in the presence of noise.

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