Neighborhood Reconstructing Autoencoders

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Yonghyeon LEE, Hyeokjun Kwon, Frank Park


Vanilla autoencoders often produce manifolds that overfit to noisy training data, or have the wrong local connectivity and geometry. Autoencoder regularization techniques, e.g., the denoising autoencoder, have had some success in reducing overfitting, whereas recent graph-based methods that exploit local connectivity information provided by neighborhood graphs have had some success in mitigating local connectivity errors. Neither of these two approaches satisfactorily reduce both overfitting and connectivity errors; moreover, graph-based methods typically involve considerable preprocessing and tuning. To simultaneously address the two issues of overfitting and local connectivity, we propose a new graph-based autoencoder, the Neighborhood Reconstructing Autoencoder (NRAE). Unlike existing graph-based methods that attempt to encode the training data to some prescribed latent space distribution -- one consequence being that only the encoder is the object of the regularization -- NRAE merges local connectivity information contained in the neighborhood graphs with local quadratic approximations of the decoder function to formulate a new neighborhood reconstruction loss. Compared to existing graph-based methods, our new loss function is simple and easy to implement, and the resulting algorithm is scalable and computationally efficient; the only required preprocessing step is the construction of the neighborhood graph. Extensive experiments with standard datasets demonstrate that, compared to existing methods, NRAE improves both overfitting and local connectivity in the learned manifold, in some cases by significant margins. Code for NRAE is available at