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Workshop: Deep Generative Models for Highly Structured Data

Semi-Discrete Normalizing Flows through Differentiable Voronoi Tessellation

Tian Qi Chen · Brandon Amos · Maximilian Nickel


Mapping between discrete and continuous distributions is a difficult task and many have had to resort to approximate or heuristical approaches. We propose a tessellation-based approach that directly learns quantization boundaries on a continuous space, complete with exact likelihood evaluations. This is done through constructing normalizing flows on convex polytopes defined via a differentiable tessellation. Using a simple homeomorphism with an efficient log determinant Jacobian, we can then cheaply parameterize distributions on bounded domains. We explore this approach in two application settings, mapping from discrete to continuous and vice versa. Firstly, a Voronoi dequantization allows automatically learning quantization boundaries in a multidimensional space. The location of boundaries and distances between regions can encode useful structural relations between the quantized discrete values. Secondly, a Voronoi mixture model has constant computation cost for likelihood evaluation regardless of the number of mixture components. Empirically, we show improvements over existing methods across a range of structured data modalities, and find that we can achieve a significant gain from just adding Voronoi mixtures to a baseline model.

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