Bidirectional Helmholtz Machines


Jorg Bornschein, Samira Shabanian, Asja Fischer, Yoshua Bengio ;
Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 48:2511-2519, 2016.


Efficient unsupervised training and inference in deep generative models remains a challenging problem. One basic approach, called Helmholtz machine or Variational Autoencoder, involves training a top-down directed generative model together with a bottom-up auxiliary model used for approximate inference. Recent results indicate that better generative models can be obtained with better approximate inference procedures. Instead of improving the inference procedure, we here propose a new model, the bidirectional Helmholtz machine, which guarantees that the top-down and bottom-up distributions can efficiently invert each other. We achieve this by interpreting both the top-down and the bottom-up directed models as approximate inference distributions and by defining the model distribution to be the geometric mean of these two. We present a lower-bound for the likelihood of this model and we show that optimizing this bound regularizes the model so that the Bhattacharyya distance between the bottom-up and top-down approximate distributions is minimized. This approach results in state of the art generative models which prefer significantly deeper architectures while it allows for orders of magnitude more efficient likelihood estimation.

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