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A Tale of Two Flows: Cooperative Learning of Langevin Flow and Normalizing Flow Toward Energy-Based Model

Jianwen Xie · yaxuan zhu · Jun Li · Ping Li

Keywords: [ Normalizing Flow ] [ Langevin dynamics ] [ Energy-based model ]


This paper studies the cooperative learning of two generative flow models, in which the two models are iteratively updated based on the jointly synthesized examples. The first flow model is a normalizing flow that transforms an initial simple density into a target density by applying a sequence of invertible transformations. The second flow model is a Langevin flow that runs finite steps of gradient-based MCMC toward an energy-based model. We start from proposing a generative framework that trains an energy-based model with a normalizing flow as an amortized sampler to initialize the MCMC chains of the energy-based model. In each learning iteration, we generate synthesized examples by using a normalizing flow initialization followed by a short-run Langevin flow revision toward the current energy-based model. Then we treat the synthesized examples as fair samples from the energy-based model and update the model parameters with the maximum likelihood learning gradient, while the normalizing flow directly learns from the synthesized examples by maximizing the tractable likelihood. Under the short-run non-mixing MCMC scenario, the estimation of the energy-based model is shown to follow the perturbation of maximum likelihood, and the short-run Langevin flow and the normalizing flow form a two-flow generator that we call CoopFlow. We provide an understating of the CoopFlow algorithm by information geometry and show that it is a valid generator as it converges to a moment matching estimator. We demonstrate that the trained CoopFlow is capable of synthesizing realistic images, reconstructing images, and interpolating between images.

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