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One-Line-of-Code Data Mollification Improves Optimization of Likelihood-based Generative Models

Ba-Hien Tran · Giulio Franzese · Pietro Michiardi · Maurizio Filippone

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #725
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Thu 14 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


Generative Models (GMs) have attracted considerable attention due to their tremendous success in various domains, such as computer vision where they are capable to generate impressive realistic-looking images. Likelihood-based GMs are attractive due to the possibility to generate new data by a single model evaluation. However, they typically achieve lower sample quality compared to state-of-the-art score-based Diffusion Models (DMs). This paper provides a significant step in the direction of addressing this limitation. The idea is to borrow one of the strengths of score-based DMs, which is the ability to perform accurate density estimation in low-density regions and to address manifold overfitting by means of data mollification. We propose a view of data mollification within likelihood-based GMs as a continuation method, whereby the optimization objective smoothly transitions from simple-to-optimize to the original target. Crucially, data mollification can be implemented by adding one line of code in the optimization loop, and we demonstrate that this provides a boost in generation quality of likelihood-based GMs, without computational overheads. We report results on real-world image data sets and UCI benchmarks with popular likelihood-based GMs, including variants of variational autoencoders and normalizing flows, showing large improvements in FID score and density estimation.

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