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Generalist: Decoupling Natural and Robust Generalization

Hongjun Wang · Yisen Wang

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 388
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Deep neural networks obtained by standard training have been constantly plagued by adversarial examples. Although adversarial training demonstrates its capability to defend against adversarial examples, unfortunately, it leads to an inevitable drop in the natural generalization. To address the issue, we decouple the natural generalization and the robust generalization from joint training and formulate different training strategies for each one. Specifically, instead of minimizing a global loss on the expectation over these two generalization errors, we propose a bi-expert framework called Generalist where we simultaneously train base learners with task-aware strategies so that they can specialize in their own fields. The parameters of base learners are collected and combined to form a global learner at intervals during the training process. The global learner is then distributed to the base learners as initialized parameters for continued training. Theoretically, we prove that the risks of Generalist will get lower once the base learners are well trained. Extensive experiments verify the applicability of Generalist to achieve high accuracy on natural examples while maintaining considerable robustness to adversarial ones. Code is available at

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