Revisiting Residual Networks for Adversarial Robustness

Shihua Huang · Zhichao Lu · Kalyanmoy Deb · Vishnu Naresh Boddeti

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 391


Efforts to improve the adversarial robustness of convolutional neural networks have primarily focused on developing more effective adversarial training methods. In contrast, little attention was devoted to analyzing the role of architectural elements (e.g., topology, depth, and width) on adversarial robustness. This paper seeks to bridge this gap and present a holistic study on the impact of architectural design on adversarial robustness. We focus on residual networks and consider architecture design at the block level as well as at the network scaling level. In both cases, we first derive insights through systematic experiments. Then we design a robust residual block, dubbed RobustResBlock, and a compound scaling rule, dubbed RobustScaling, to distribute depth and width at the desired FLOP count. Finally, we combine RobustResBlock and RobustScaling and present a portfolio of adversarially robust residual networks, RobustResNets, spanning a broad spectrum of model capacities. Experimental validation across multiple datasets and adversarial attacks demonstrate that RobustResNets consistently outperform both the standard WRNs and other existing robust architectures, achieving state-of-the-art AutoAttack robust accuracy 63.7% with 500K external data while being 2× more compact in terms of parameters. The code is available at

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