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Towards Non-Asymptotic Convergence for Diffusion-Based Generative Models

Gen Li · Yuting Wei · Yuxin Chen · Yuejie Chi

Halle B #185
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Tue 7 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT

Abstract: Diffusion models, which convert noise into new data instances by learning to reverse a Markov diffusion process, have become a cornerstone in contemporary generative modeling. While their practical power has now been widely recognized, the theoretical underpinnings remain far from mature. In this work, we develop a suite of non-asymptotic theory towards understanding the data generation process of diffusion models in discrete time, assuming access to $\ell_2$-accurate estimates of the (Stein) score functions. For a popular deterministic sampler (based on the probability flow ODE), we establish a convergence rate proportional to $1/T$ (with $T$ the total number of steps), improving upon past results; for another mainstream stochastic sampler (i.e., a type of the denoising diffusion probabilistic model), we derive a convergence rate proportional to $1/\sqrt{T}$, matching the state-of-the-art theory. Imposing only minimal assumptions on the target data distribution (e.g., no smoothness assumption is imposed), our results characterize how $\ell_2$ score estimation errors affect the quality of the data generation process. In contrast to prior works, our theory is developed based on an elementary yet versatile non-asymptotic approach without resorting to toolboxes for SDEs and ODEs.

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