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Poster
Improving Inference for Neural Image Compression
Yibo Yang · Robert Bamler · Stephan Mandt

Wed Dec 09 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Poster Session 3 #827

We consider the problem of lossy image compression with deep latent variable models. State-of-the-art methods build on hierarchical variational autoencoders (VAEs) and learn inference networks to predict a compressible latent representation of each data point. Drawing on the variational inference perspective on compression, we identify three approximation gaps which limit performance in the conventional approach: an amortization gap, a discretization gap, and a marginalization gap. We propose remedies for each of these three limitations based on ideas related to iterative inference, stochastic annealing for discrete optimization, and bits-back coding, resulting in the first application of bits-back coding to lossy compression. In our experiments, which include extensive baseline comparisons and ablation studies, we achieve new state-of-the-art performance on lossy image compression using an established VAE architecture, by changing only the inference method.

Author Information

Yibo Yang (University of California, Irivine)
Robert Bamler (University of Tübingen)
Stephan Mandt (University of California, Irvine)

Stephan Mandt is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. From 2016 until 2018, he was a Senior Researcher and Head of the statistical machine learning group at Disney Research, first in Pittsburgh and later in Los Angeles. He held previous postdoctoral positions at Columbia University and Princeton University. Stephan holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Cologne. He is a Fellow of the German National Merit Foundation, a Kavli Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and was a visiting researcher at Google Brain. Stephan regularly serves as an Area Chair for NeurIPS, ICML, AAAI, and ICLR, and is a member of the Editorial Board of JMLR. His research is currently supported by NSF, DARPA, Intel, and Qualcomm.

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