Alex M. Lamb, Devon Hjelm, Yaroslav Ganin, Joseph Paul Cohen, Aaron C. Courville, Yoshua Bengio
Directed latent variable models that formulate the joint distribution as $p(x,z) = p(z) p(x \mid z)$ have the advantage of fast and exact sampling. However, these models have the weakness of needing to specify $p(z)$, often with a simple fixed prior that limits the expressiveness of the model. Undirected latent variable models discard the requirement that $p(z)$ be specified with a prior, yet sampling from them generally requires an iterative procedure such as blocked Gibbs-sampling that may require many steps to draw samples from the joint distribution $p(x, z)$. We propose a novel approach to learning the joint distribution between the data and a latent code which uses an adversarially learned iterative procedure to gradually refine the joint distribution, $p(x, z)$, to better match with the data distribution on each step. GibbsNet is the best of both worlds both in theory and in practice. Achieving the speed and simplicity of a directed latent variable model, it is guaranteed (assuming the adversarial game reaches the virtual training criteria global minimum) to produce samples from $p(x, z)$ with only a few sampling iterations. Achieving the expressiveness and flexibility of an undirected latent variable model, GibbsNet does away with the need for an explicit $p(z)$ and has the ability to do attribute prediction, class-conditional generation, and joint image-attribute modeling in a single model which is not trained for any of these specific tasks. We show empirically that GibbsNet is able to learn a more complex $p(z)$ and show that this leads to improved inpainting and iterative refinement of $p(x, z)$ for dozens of steps and stable generation without collapse for thousands of steps, despite being trained on only a few steps.