TL;DR: neural image compression training with tighter ELBO
Abstract: This paper considers the problem of lossy neural image compression (NIC). Current state-of-the-art (SOTA) methods adopt uniform posterior to approximate quantization noise, and single-sample pathwise estimator to approximate the gradient of evidence lower bound (ELBO). In this paper, we propose to train NIC with multiple-sample importance weighted autoencoder (IWAE) target, which is tighter than ELBO and converges to log likelihood as sample size increases. First, we identify that the uniform posterior of NIC has special properties, which affect the variance and bias of pathwise and score function estimators of the IWAE target. Moreover, we provide insights on a commonly adopted trick in NIC from gradient variance perspective. Based on those analysis, we further propose multiple-sample NIC (MS-NIC), an enhanced IWAE target for NIC. Experimental results demonstrate that it improves SOTA NIC methods. Our MS-NIC is plug-and-play, and can be easily extended to neural video compression.
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