On the Robustness of Randomized Ensembles to Adversarial Perturbations
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:7303-7328, 2023.
Randomized ensemble classifiers (RECs), where one classifier is randomly selected during inference, have emerged as an attractive alternative to traditional ensembling methods for realizing adversarially robust classifiers with limited compute requirements. However, recent works have shown that existing methods for constructing RECs are more vulnerable than initially claimed, casting major doubts on their efficacy and prompting fundamental questions such as: "When are RECs useful?", "What are their limits?", and "How do we train them?". In this work, we first demystify RECs as we derive fundamental results regarding their theoretical limits, necessary and sufficient conditions for them to be useful, and more. Leveraging this new understanding, we propose a new boosting algorithm (BARRE) for training robust RECs, and empirically demonstrate its effectiveness at defending against strong $\ell_\infty$ norm-bounded adversaries across various network architectures and datasets. Our code can be found at https://github.com/hsndbk4/BARRE.