Using robustness as a general training library (Part 2: Customizing training)

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In this document, we’ll continue our walk through using robustness as a library. In the first part, we made a file that trains a model given user-specified parameters. For this part of the walkthrough, we’ll continue from that file. You can also start with a copy the source of robustness.main, or (if you don’t want the full flexibility of all of those arguments) the following bare-bones file suffices for training an adversarially robust CIFAR classifier with a fixed set of parameters:

from robustness import model_utils, datasets, train, defaults
from robustness.datasets import CIFAR
import torch as ch

# We use cox ( to log, store and analyze
# results. Read more at https//
from cox.utils import Parameters

# Hard-coded dataset, architecture, batch size, workers
ds = CIFAR('/tmp/')
m, _ = model_utils.make_and_restore_model(arch='resnet50', dataset=ds)
train_loader, val_loader = ds.make_loaders(batch_size=BATCH_SIZE, workers=NUM_WORKERS)

# Create a cox store for logging
out_store =

# Hard-coded base parameters
train_kwargs = {
    'out_dir': "train_out",
    'adv_train': 1,
    'constraint': '2',
    'eps': 0.5,
    'attack_lr': 1.5,
    'attack_steps': 20
train_args = Parameters(train_kwargs)

# Fill whatever parameters are missing from the defaults
train_args = defaults.check_and_fill_args(train_args,
                        defaults.TRAINING_ARGS, CIFAR)
train_args = defaults.check_and_fill_args(train_args,
                        defaults.PGD_ARGS, CIFAR)

# Train a model
train.train_model(train_args, m, (train_loader, val_loader), store=out_store)

The following sections will demonstrate how to customize training in a variety of ways.

Training networks with custom loss functions

By default, training uses the cross-entropy loss; however, we can easily change this by specifying a custom training loss and a custom adversary loss. For example, suppose that instead of just computing the cross-entropy loss, we’re going to try an experimental new training loss that multiplies a random 50% of the logits by 10. (Note that this is just for illustrative purposes—in practice this is a terrible idea.)

We can implement this crazy loss function as a training criterion and a corresponding adversary loss. Recall that as discussed in the robustness.train.train_model() docstring, the train loss takes in logits,targets and returns a scalar, whereas the adversary loss takes in model,inputs,targets and returns a vector (not averaged along the batch) as well as the output.

train_crit = ch.nn.CrossEntropyLoss()
def custom_train_loss(logits, targ):
    probs = ch.ones_like(logits) * 0.5
    logits_to_multiply = ch.bernoulli(probs) * 9 + 1
    return train_crit(logits_to_multiply * logits, targ)

adv_crit = ch.nn.CrossEntropyLoss(reduction='none').cuda()
def custom_adv_loss(model, inp, targ):
    logits = model(inp)
    probs = ch.ones_like(logits) * 0.5
    logits_to_multiply = ch.bernoulli(probs) * 9 + 1
    new_logits = logits_to_multiply * logits
    return adv_crit(new_logits, targ), new_logits

train_args.custom_train_loss = custom_train_loss
train_args.custom_adv_loss = custom_adv_loss

Adding these few lines right before calling of train_model() suffices for training our network robustly with this custom loss.

Training networks with custom data loaders

Another aspect of the training we can customize is data loading, through two utilities for modifying dataloaders called robustness.loaders.TransformedLoader() and robustness.loaders.LambdaLoader. To see how they work, we’re going to consider two variations on our training: (a) training with label noise, and (b) training with random labels.

Using LambdaLoader to train with label noise

LambdaLoader works by modifying the output of a data loader in real-time, i.e. it applies a fixed function to the output of a loader. This makes it well-suited to, e.g., custom data augmentation, input/label noise, or other applications where randomness across batches is needed. To demonstrate its usage, we’re going to add label noise to our training setup. To do this, all we need to do is define a function which takes in a batch of inputs and labels, and returns the same batch but with label noise added in. For example:

from robustness.loaders import LambdaLoader

def label_noiser(ims, labels):
    label_noise = ch.randint_like(labels, high=9)
    probs = ch.ones_like(label_noise) * 0.1
    labels_to_noise = ch.bernoulli(probs.float()).long()
    new_labels = (labels + label_noise * labels_to_noise) % 10
    return ims, new_labels

train_loader = LambdaLoader(train_loader, label_noiser)

Note that LamdaLoader is quite general—any function that takes in ims, labels and outputs ims, labels of the same shape can be put in place of label_noiser above.

Using TransformedLoader to train with random labels

In contrast to LambdaLoader, TransformedLoader() is a data loader transformation that is applied once at the beginning of training (this makes it better suited to deterministic transformations to inputs or labels). Unfortunately, the implementation of TransformedLoader currently loads the entire dataset into memory, so it only reliably works on small datasets (e.g. CIFAR). This will be fixed in a future version of the library. To demonstrate its usage, we will use it to randomize labels for the training set. (Recall that when we usually train using random labels, we perform the label assignment only once, prior to training.) To do this, all we need to do is define a function which takes in a batch of inputs and labels, and returns the same batch, but with random labels instead. For example:

from robustness.loaders import TransformedLoader
from robustness.data_augmentation import TRAIN_TRANSFORMS_DEFAULT

def make_rand_labels(ims, targs):
    new_targs = ch.randint(0, high=10, size=targs.shape).long()
    return ims, new_targs

train_loader_transformed = TransformedLoader(train_loader,

Here, we start with a train_loader without data augmentation, to get access to the actual image-label pairs from the training set. We then transform each input by assigning an image a random label instead. Moreover, we also support applying other transforms in real-time (such as data augmentation) during the creation of the transformed dataset using train_loader_transformed (e.g., TRAIN_TRANSFORMS(32) here).

Note that TransformedLoader is quite general—any function that takes in ims, labels and outputs ims, labels of the same shape can be put in place of rand_label_transform above.

Training networks with custom logging

The robustness library also supports training with custom logging functionality. When calling train_model(), the user can specify “hooks,” functions that will be called by the training process every iteration or every epoch. Here, we’ll demonstrate this functionality using a logging function that measures the norm of the network parameters (by treating them as a single vector). We will modify/augment the code described above:

from torch.nn.utils import parameters_to_vector as flatten

def log_norm(mod, log_info):
   curr_params = flatten(mod.parameters())
   log_info_custom = { 'epoch': log_info['epoch'],
                        'weight_norm': ch.norm(curr_params).detach().cpu().numpy() }

We now create a custom cox store that we’ll hold our results in (cox is our super-lightweight library for storing and analyzing experimental results, you can read the docs here).

CUSTOM_SCHEMA = {'epoch': int, 'weight_norm': float }
out_store.add_table('custom', CUSTOM_SCHEMA)

We will then modify the train_args to incorporate this function into the logging done per epoch/iteration. If we want to log the norm of the weights every epoch, we can do:

train_args.epoch_hook = log_norm

If we want to perform the logging every iteration, we need to make the following modifications:

CUSTOM_SCHEMA = {'iteration': int, 'weight_norm': float}
out_store.add_table('custom', CUSTOM_SCHEMA)

 def log_norm(mod, it, loop_type, inp, targ):
    if loop_type == 'train':
       curr_params = flatten(mod.parameters())
       log_info_custom = { 'iteration': it,
                      'weight_norm': ch.norm(curr_params).detach().cpu().numpy() }

 train_args.iteration_hook = log_norm

The arguments taken by the iteration hook differ from those taken by the epoch hook: the former takes a model, iteration number, loop_type, current input batch, and current target batch. The latter takes only the model and a dictionary called log_info containing all of the normally logged statistics as in

Note that the custom logging functionality provided by the robustness library is quite general—any function that takes the appropriate input arguments can be used in place of log_norm above.

Training on custom datasets

The robustness library by default includes most common datasets: ImageNet, Restricted-ImageNet, CIFAR, CINIC, and A2B. That said, it is rather straightforward to add your own dataset.

  1. Subclass the DataSet class from robustness.datasets. This means implementing __init__() and get_model() functions.

  2. In __init__(), all that is required is to call super(NewClass, self).__init__ with the appropriate arguments, found in the docstring and duplicated below:

    • Dataset name (e.g. imagenet).
    • Dataset path (if your desired dataset is in the list of already implemented datasets in torchvision.datasets, pass the appropriate location, otherwise make this an argument of your subclassed __init__ function.
    Named arguments (all required):
    • num_classes, the number of classes in the dataset
    • mean, the mean to normalize the dataset with
    • std, the standard deviation to normalize the dataset with
    • custom_class, the torchvision.models class corresponding to the dataset, if it exists (otherwise None)
    • label_mapping, a dictionary mapping from class numbers to human-interpretable class names (can be None)
    • transform_train, instance of torchvision.transforms to apply to the training images from the dataset
    • transform_test, instance of torchvision.transforms to apply to the validation images from the dataset
  3. In get_model(), implement a function which takes in an architecture name arch and boolean pretrained, and returns a PyTorch model (nn.Module) (see the docstring for more details). This will probably entail just using something like:

    from robustness import imagenet_models # or cifar_models
    assert not pretrained, "pretrained only available for ImageNet"
    return imagenet_models.__dict__[arch](num_classes=self.num_classes)
    # replace "models" with "cifar_models" in the above if the
    # image size is less than [224, 224, 3]

You’re all set! You can create an instance of your dataset and a corresponding model with::

from robustness.datasets import MyNewDataSet
from robustness.model_utils import make_and_restore_model
ds = MyNewDataSet('/path/to/dataset/')
model, _ = make_and_restore_model(arch='resnet50', dataset=ds)

Note: if you also want to be able to use your dataset with the command-line tool, you’ll need to clone the repository and pip install it locally, after also following these extra steps:

  1. Add an entry to robustness.datasets.DATASETS dictionary for your dataset.
  2. If you want to be able to train a robust model on your dataset, add it to the DATASET_TO_CONFIG dictionary in and create a config file in the same manner as for the other datasets.

Training with custom architectures

Currently the robustness library supports a few common architectures. The models are split between two folders: cifar_models for architectures that handle CIFAR-size (i.e. 32x32x3) images, and imagenet_models for models that require larger images (e.g. 224x224x3). It is possible to add architectures to either of these folders, but to make them fully compatible with the robustness library requires a few extra steps.

We’ll go through an example of how to add a simple one-hidden-layer MLP architecture for CIFAR:

  1. Let’s set up our imports and instantiate the dataset:

    from torch import nn
    from robustness.model_utils import make_and_restore_model
    from robustness.datasets import CIFAR
    ds = CIFAR('/path/to/cifar')
  2. Implement and create an instance of your model:

    class MLP(nn.Module):
       # Must implement the num_classes argument
       def __init__(self, num_classes=10):
          self.fc1 = nn.Linear(32*32*3, 1000)
          self.relu1 = nn.ReLU()
          self.fc2 = nn.Linear(1000, num_classes)
       def forward(self, x, *args, **kwargs):
          out = x.view(x.shape[0], -1)
          out = self.fc1(out)
          out = self.relu1(out)
          return self.fc2(out)
    model = MLP(num_classes=10)
  3. Call robustness.model_utils.make_and_restore_model(), but this time feed in model instead of a string with the architecture name:

    model, _ = make_and_restore_model(arch=model, dataset=ds)
  4. (If all you want to do with this architecture is training a model, you can skip this step). In order to make it fully compatible with the robustness library, the :forward function of our architecture must support the following three (boolean) arguments:

    • with_latent : If this option is given, forward should return the output of the second-last layer along with the logits.
    • fake_relu : If this option is given, replace the ReLU just after the second-last layer with a custom_modules.FakeReLUM, which is a ReLU on the forwards pass and identity on the backwards pass.
    • no_relu : If this option is given, then with_latent should return the pre-ReLU activations of the second-last layer.

    These options are usually actually quite simple to implement:

    from robustness.imagenet_models import custom_modules
    class MLP(nn.Module):
       # Must implement the num_classes argument
       def __init__(self, num_classes=10):
          self.fc1 = nn.Linear(32*32*3, 1000)
          self.relu1 = nn.ReLU()
          self.fake_relu1 = custom_modules.FakeReLUM()
          self.fc2 = nn.Linear(1000, num_classes)
       def forward(self, x, with_latent=False, fake_relu=False, no_relu=False):
          out = x.view(x.shape[0], -1)
          pre_relu = self.fc1(out)
          out = self.fake_relu1(pre_relu) if fake_relu else self.relu1(pre_relu)
          final = self.fc2(out)
          if with_latent:
             return (final, pre_relu) if no_relu else (final, out)
          return final

That’s it! Now, just like for custom datasets, if you want these architectures to be available via the command line tool, you’ll have to clone the robustness repository and pip install it locally. You’ll also have to do the following:

  1. Put the declaration of the MLP class into its own file, and add this file to the cifar_models folder
  1. In cifar_models/, add the line:

    from .mlp import MLP
  2. The new architecture is now available as:

    from robustness.model_utils import make_and_restore_model
    from robustness.datasets import CIFAR
    ds = CIFAR('/path/to/cifar')
    model, _ = make_and_restore_model(arch='MLP', dataset=ds)

    and via the command line option --arch MLP.