Learning a 1-layer conditional generative model in total variation

Published: 21 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023NeurIPS 2023 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: Generative models, distribution learning, maximum likelihood estimation
TL;DR: We prove that MLE can learn deep generative models layer-by-layer using a near-linear number of samples
Abstract: A conditional generative model is a method for sampling from a conditional distribution $p(y \mid x)$. For example, one may want to sample an image of a cat given the label ``cat''. A feed-forward conditional generative model is a function $g(x, z)$ that takes the input $x$ and a random seed $z$, and outputs a sample $y$ from $p(y \mid x)$. Ideally the distribution of outputs $(x, g(x, z))$ would be close in total variation to the ideal distribution $(x, y)$. Generalization bounds for other learning models require assumptions on the distribution of $x$, even in simple settings like linear regression with Gaussian noise. We show these assumptions are unnecessary in our model, for both linear regression and single-layer ReLU networks. Given samples $(x, y)$, we show how to learn a 1-layer ReLU conditional generative model in total variation. As our result has no assumption on the distribution of inputs $x$, if we are given access to the internal activations of a deep generative model, we can compose our 1-layer guarantee to progressively learn the deep model using a near-linear number of samples.
Supplementary Material: pdf
Submission Number: 5195