Enhancing Adversarial Contrastive Learning via Adversarial Invariant Regularization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Xilie Xu, Jingfeng ZHANG, Feng Liu, Masashi Sugiyama, Mohan S. Kankanhalli


Adversarial contrastive learning (ACL) is a technique that enhances standard contrastive learning (SCL) by incorporating adversarial data to learn a robust representation that can withstand adversarial attacks and common corruptions without requiring costly annotations. To improve transferability, the existing work introduced the standard invariant regularization (SIR) to impose style-independence property to SCL, which can exempt the impact of nuisance style factors in the standard representation. However, it is unclear how the style-independence property benefits ACL-learned robust representations. In this paper, we leverage the technique of causal reasoning to interpret the ACL and propose adversarial invariant regularization (AIR) to enforce independence from style factors. We regulate the ACL using both SIR and AIR to output the robust representation. Theoretically, we show that AIR implicitly encourages the representational distance between different views of natural data and their adversarial variants to be independent of style factors. Empirically, our experimental results show that invariant regularization significantly improves the performance of state-of-the-art ACL methods in terms of both standard generalization and robustness on downstream tasks. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to apply causal reasoning to interpret ACL and develop AIR for enhancing ACL-learned robust representations. Our source code is at https://github.com/GodXuxilie/EnhancingACLvia_AIR.