- TL;DR: We learn neural joint coding with bandwidth-limited channel models.
- Abstract: Reliably transmitting messages despite information loss due to a noisy channel is a core problem of information theory. One of the most important aspects of real world communication is that it may happen at varying levels of information transfer. The bandwidth-limited channel models this phenomenon. In this study we consider learning joint coding with the bandwidth-limited channel. Although, classical results suggest that it is asymptotically optimal to separate the sub-tasks of compression (source coding) and error correction (channel coding), it is well known that for finite block-length problems, and when there are restrictions to the computational complexity of coding, this optimality may not be achieved. Thus, we empirically compare the performance of joint and separate systems, and conclude that joint systems outperform their separate counterparts when coding is performed by flexible learnable function approximators such as neural networks. Specifically, we cast the joint communication problem as a variational learning problem. To facilitate this, we introduce a differentiable and computationally efficient version of this channel. We show that our design compensates for the loss of information by two mechanisms: (i) missing information is modelled by a prior model incorporated in the channel model, and (ii) sampling from the joint model is improved by auxiliary latent variables in the decoder. Experimental results justify the validity of our design decisions through improved distortion and FID scores.
- Code: https://www.dropbox.com/s/tnznqx4u80cpjr6/iclr2020_code.zip?dl=0
- Keywords: variational inference, joint coding, bandwidth-limited channel, deep learning, representation learning, compression