Improving latent variable descriptiveness by modelling rather than ad-hoc factors

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Withdrawn Submission readers: everyone
  • Abstract: Powerful generative models, particularly in Natural Language Modelling, are commonly trained by maximizing a variational lower bound on the data log likelihood. These models often suffer from poor use of their latent variable, with ad-hoc annealing factors used to encourage retention of information in the latent variable. We discuss an alternative and general approach to latent variable modelling, based on an objective that encourages a perfect reconstruction by tying a stochastic autoencoder with a variational autoencoder (VAE). This ensures by design that the latent variable captures information about the observations, whilst retaining the ability to generate well. Interestingly, although our model is fundamentally different to a VAE, the lower bound attained is identical to the standard VAE bound but with the addition of a simple pre-factor; thus, providing a formal interpretation of the commonly used, ad-hoc pre-factors in training VAEs.
  • Keywords: generative modelling, latent variable modelling, variational autoencoders, variational inference, natural language processing
  • TL;DR: This paper introduces a novel generative modelling framework that avoids latent-variable collapse and clarifies the use of certain ad-hoc factors in training Variational Autoencoders.
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