Published on Wed Apr 24 2019

Generated Loss and Augmented Training of MNIST VAE

Jason Chou

The VAE framework is a popular option for training unsupervised generative models. VAEs often result in low-precision reconstructions and generated samples. We test the idea of using the total VAE loss of generated samples as the proxy metric for generation quality.

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Abstract

The variational autoencoder (VAE) framework is a popular option for training unsupervised generative models, featuring ease of training and latent representation of data. The objective function of VAE does not guarantee to achieve the latter, however, and failure to do so leads to a frequent failure mode called posterior collapse. Even in successful cases, VAEs often result in low-precision reconstructions and generated samples. The introduction of the KL-divergence weight can help steer the model clear of posterior collapse, but its tuning is often a trial-and-error process with no guiding metrics. Here we test the idea of using the total VAE loss of generated samples (generated loss) as the proxy metric for generation quality, the related hypothesis that VAE reconstruction from the mean latent vector tends to be a more typical example of its class than the original, and the idea of exploiting this property by augmenting training data with generated variants (augmented training). The results are mixed, but repeated encoding and decoding indeed result in qualitatively and quantitatively more typical examples from both convolutional and fully-connected MNIST VAEs, suggesting that it may be an inherent property of the VAE framework.