Abstract: In this work, we provide a deterministic alternative to the stochastic variational training of generative autoencoders. We refer to these new generative autoencoders as AutoEncoders within Flows (AEF), since the encoder and decoder are defined as affine layers of an overall invertible architecture. This results in a deterministic encoding of the data, as opposed to the stochastic encoding of VAEs. The paper introduces two related families of AEFs. The first family relies on a partition of the ambient space and is trained by exact maximum-likelihood. The second family exploits a deterministic expansion of the ambient space and is trained by maximizing the log-probability in this extended space. This latter case leaves complete freedom in the choice of encoder, decoder and prior architectures, making it a drop-in replacement for the training of existing VAEs and VAE-style models. We show that these AEFs can have strikingly higher performance than architecturally identical VAEs in terms of log-likelihood and sample quality, especially for low dimensional latent spaces. Importantly, we show that AEF samples are substantially sharper than VAE samples.
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