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TL;DR: We study rate distortion approximations for evaluating deep generative models, and show that rate distortion curves provide more insights about the model than the log-likelihood alone while requiring roughly the same computational cost.
Abstract: Deep generative models have achieved remarkable progress in recent years. Despite this progress, quantitative evaluation and comparison of generative models remains as one of the important challenges. One of the most popular metrics for evaluating generative models is the log-likelihood. While the direct computation of log-likelihood can be intractable, it has been recently shown that the log-likelihood of some of the most interesting generative models such as variational autoencoders (VAE) or generative adversarial networks (GAN) can be efficiently estimated using annealed importance sampling (AIS). In this work, we argue that the log-likelihood metric by itself cannot represent all the different performance characteristics of generative models, and propose to use rate distortion curves to evaluate and compare deep generative models. We show that we can approximate the entire rate distortion curve using one single run of AIS for roughly the same computational cost as a single log-likelihood estimate. We evaluate lossy compression rates of different deep generative models such as VAEs, GANs (and its variants) and adversarial autoencoders (AAE) on MNIST and CIFAR10, and arrive at a number of insights not obtainable from log-likelihoods alone.
Keywords: Deep Learning, Generative Models, Information Theory, Rate Distortion Theory