CoT: Cooperative Training for Generative Modeling of Discrete Data

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Sidi Lu, Lantao Yu, Siyuan Feng, Yaoming Zhu, Weinan Zhang ;
Proceedings of the 36th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 97:4164-4172, 2019.

Abstract

In this paper, we study the generative models of sequential discrete data. To tackle the exposure bias problem inherent in maximum likelihood estimation (MLE), generative adversarial networks (GANs) are introduced to penalize the unrealistic generated samples. To exploit the supervision signal from the discriminator, most previous models leverage REINFORCE to address the non-differentiable problem of sequential discrete data. However, because of the unstable property of the training signal during the dynamic process of adversarial training, the effectiveness of REINFORCE, in this case, is hardly guaranteed. To deal with such a problem, we propose a novel approach called Cooperative Training (CoT) to improve the training of sequence generative models. CoT transforms the min-max game of GANs into a joint maximization framework and manages to explicitly estimate and optimize Jensen-Shannon divergence. Moreover, CoT works without the necessity of pre-training via MLE, which is crucial to the success of previous methods. In the experiments, compared to existing state-of-the-art methods, CoT shows superior or at least competitive performance on sample quality, diversity, as well as training stability.

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