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Exploring Diffusion Time-steps for Unsupervised Representation Learning

Zhongqi Yue · Zhongqi Yue · Jiankun Wang · Qianru Sun · Lei Ji · Eric Chang · Hanwang Zhang

Halle B #215
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Tue 7 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Representation learning is all about discovering the hidden modular attributes that generate the data faithfully. We explore the potential of Denoising Diffusion Probabilistic Model (DM) in unsupervised learning of the modular attributes. We build a theoretical framework that connects the diffusion time-steps and the hidden attributes, which serves as an effective inductive bias for unsupervised learning. Specifically, the forward diffusion process incrementally adds Gaussian noise to samples at each time-step, which essentially collapses different samples into similar ones by losing attributes, e.g., fine-grained attributes such as texture are lost with less noise added (i.e., early time-steps), while coarse-grained ones such as shape are lost by adding more noise (i.e., late time-steps). To disentangle the modular attributes, at each time-step t, we learn a t-specific feature to compensate for the newly lost attribute, and the set of all {1,...,t}-specific features, corresponding to the cumulative set of lost attributes, are trained to make up for the reconstruction error of a pre-trained DM at time-step t. On CelebA, FFHQ, and Bedroom datasets, the learned feature significantly improves attribute classification and enables faithful counterfactual generation, e.g., interpolating only one specified attribute between two images, validating the disentanglement quality. Codes are in

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