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Workshop: Mathematics of Modern Machine Learning (M3L)

On the Computational Complexity of Inverting Generative Models

Feyza Duman Keles · Chinmay Hegde

Abstract: The objective of generative model inversion is to identify a size-$n$ latent vector that produces a generative model output that closely matches a given target. This operation is a core computational primitive in numerous modern applications involving computer vision and NLP. However, the problem is known to be computationally challenging and NP-hard in the worst case. This paper aims to provide a fine-grained view of the landscape of computational hardness for this problem. We establish several new hardness lower bounds for both exact and approximate model inversion. In exact inversion, the goal is to determine whether a target is contained within the range of a given generative model. Under the strong exponential time hypothesis (SETH), we demonstrate that the computational complexity of exact inversion is lower bounded by $\Omega(2^n)$ via a reduction from $k$-SAT; this is a strengthening of known results. For the more practically relevant problem of approximate inversion, the goal is to determine whether a point in the model range is close to a given target with respect to the $\ell_p$-norm. When $p$ is a positive odd integer, under SETH, we provide an $\Omega(2^n)$ complexity lower bound via a reduction from the closest vectors problem (CVP). Finally, when $p$ is even, under the exponential time hypothesis (ETH), we provide a lower bound of $2^{\Omega (n)}$ via a reduction from Half-Clique and Vertex-Cover.

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