Do GANs learn the distribution? Some Theory and Empirics

Sanjeev Arora, Andrej Risteski, Yi Zhang

Feb 15, 2018 (modified: Feb 24, 2018) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Do GANS (Generative Adversarial Nets) actually learn the target distribution? The foundational paper of Goodfellow et al. (2014) suggested they do, if they were given sufficiently large deep nets, sample size, and computation time. A recent theoretical analysis in Arora et al. (2017) raised doubts whether the same holds when discriminator has bounded size. It showed that the training objective can approach its optimum value even if the generated distribution has very low support. In other words, the training objective is unable to prevent mode collapse. The current paper makes two contributions. (1) It proposes a novel test for estimating support size using the birthday paradox of discrete probability. Using this evidence is presented that well-known GANs approaches do learn distributions of fairly low support. (2) It theoretically studies encoder-decoder GANs architectures (e.g., BiGAN/ALI), which were proposed to learn more meaningful features via GANs, and consequently to also solve the mode-collapse issue. Our result shows that such encoder-decoder training objectives also cannot guarantee learning of the full distribution because they cannot prevent serious mode collapse. More seriously, they cannot prevent learning meaningless codes for data, contrary to usual intuition.
  • TL;DR: We propose a support size estimator of GANs's learned distribution to show they indeed suffer from mode collapse, and we prove that encoder-decoder GANs do not avoid the issue as well.
  • Keywords: Generative Adversarial Networks, mode collapse, birthday paradox, support size estimation