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Learning to Dequantise with Truncated Flows

Shawn Tan · Chin-Wei Huang · Alessandro Sordoni · Aaron Courville

Keywords: [ variational inference ] [ Normalizing flows ] [ variational bayes ]

Abstract: Dequantisation is a general technique used for transforming data described by a discrete random variable $x$ into a continuous (latent) random variable $z$, for the purpose of it being modeled by likelihood-based density models. Dequantisation was first introduced in the context of ordinal data, such as image pixel values. However, when the data is categorical, the dequantisation scheme is not obvious.We learn such a dequantisation scheme $q(z | x)$, using variational inference with TRUncated FLows (TRUFL) --- a novel flow-based model that allows the dequantiser to have a learnable truncated support. Unlike previous work, the TRUFL dequantiser is (i) capable of embedding the data losslessly in certain cases, since the truncation allows the conditional distributions $q(z | x)$ to have non-overlapping bounded supports, while being (ii) trainable with back-propagation. Addtionally, since the support of the marginal $q(z)$ is bounded and the support of prior $p(z)$ is not, we propose renormalising the prior distribution over the support of $q(z)$. We derive a lower bound for training, and propose a rejection sampling scheme to account for the invalid samples during generation.Experimentally, we benchmark TRUFL on constrained generation tasks, and find that it outperforms prior approaches. In addition, we find that rejection sampling results in higher validity for the constrained problems.

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