TL;DR: A framework for training autoencoder-based generative models, with non-adversarial losses and unrestricted neural network architectures.
Abstract: Modern generative models are usually designed to match target distributions directly in the data space, where the intrinsic dimensionality of data can be much lower than the ambient dimensionality. We argue that this discrepancy may contribute to the difficulties in training generative models. We therefore propose to map both the generated and target distributions to the latent space using the encoder of a standard autoencoder, and train the generator (or decoder) to match the target distribution in the latent space. The resulting method, perceptual generative autoencoder (PGA), is then incorporated with maximum likelihood or variational autoencoder (VAE) objective to train the generative model. With maximum likelihood, PGA generalizes the idea of reversible generative models to unrestricted neural network architectures and arbitrary latent dimensionalities. When combined with VAE, PGA can generate sharper samples than vanilla VAE.