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Yilun Du, Conor Durkan, Robin Strudel, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, Sander Dieleman, Rob Fergus, Jascha Sohl-Dickstein, Arnaud Doucet, Will Grathwohl

Since their introduction, diffusion models have quickly become the prevailing approach to generative modeling in many domains. They can be interpreted as learning the gradients of a time-varying sequence of log-probability density functions. This interpretation has motivated classifier-based and classifier-free guidance as methods for post-hoc control of diffusion models. In this work, we build upon these ideas using the score-based interpretation of diffusion models, and explore alternative ways to condition, modify, and reuse diffusion models for tasks involving compositional generation and guidance. In particular, we investigate why certain types of composition fail using current techniques and present a number of solutions. We conclude that the sampler (not the model) is responsible for this failure and propose new samplers, inspired by MCMC, which enable successful compositional generation. Further, we propose an energy-based parameterization of diffusion models which enables the use of new compositional operators and more sophisticated, Metropolis-corrected samplers. Intriguingly we find these samplers lead to notable improvements in compositional generation across a wide set of problems such as classifier-guided ImageNet modeling and compositional text-to-image generation.

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Sander Dieleman, Laurent Sartran, Arman Roshannai, Nikolay Savinov, Yaroslav Ganin, Pierre H. Richemond, Arnaud Doucet, Robin Strudel, Chris Dyer, Conor Durkan, Curtis Hawthorne, Rémi Leblond, Will Grathwohl, Jonas Adler

Diffusion models have quickly become the go-to paradigm for generative modelling of perceptual signals (such as images and sound) through iterative refinement. Their success hinges on the fact that the underlying physical phenomena are continuous. For inherently discrete and categorical data such as language, various diffusion-inspired alternatives have been proposed. However, the continuous nature of diffusion models conveys many benefits, and in this work we endeavour to preserve it. We propose CDCD, a framework for modelling categorical data with diffusion models that are continuous both in time and input space. We demonstrate its efficacy on several language modelling tasks.

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Conor Durkan, Yang Song

Score-based generative modeling has recently emerged as a promising alternative to traditional likelihood-based or implicit approaches. Learning in score-based models involves first perturbing data with a continuous-time stochastic process, and then matching the time-dependent gradient of the logarithm of the noisy data density - or score function - using a continuous mixture of score matching losses. In this note, we show that such an objective is equivalent to maximum likelihood for certain choices of mixture weighting. This connection provides a principled way to weight the objective function, and justifies its use for comparing different score-based generative models. Taken together with previous work, our result reveals that both maximum likelihood training and test-time log-likelihood evaluation can be achieved through parameterization of the score function alone, without the need to explicitly parameterize a density function.

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Alvaro Tejero-Cantero, Jan Boelts, Michael Deistler, Jan-Matthis Lueckmann, Conor Durkan, Pedro J. Gonçalves, David S. Greenberg, Jakob H. Macke

Scientists and engineers employ stochastic numerical simulators to model empirically observed phenomena. In contrast to purely statistical models, simulators express scientific principles that provide powerful inductive biases, improve generalization to new data or scenarios and allow for fewer, more interpretable and domain-relevant parameters. Despite these advantages, tuning a simulator's parameters so that its outputs match data is challenging. Simulation-based inference (SBI) seeks to identify parameter sets that a) are compatible with prior knowledge and b) match empirical observations. Importantly, SBI does not seek to recover a single 'best' data-compatible parameter set, but rather to identify all high probability regions of parameter space that explain observed data, and thereby to quantify parameter uncertainty. In Bayesian terminology, SBI aims to retrieve the posterior distribution over the parameters of interest. In contrast to conventional Bayesian inference, SBI is also applicable when one can run model simulations, but no formula or algorithm exists for evaluating the probability of data given parameters, i.e. the likelihood. We present $\texttt{sbi}$, a PyTorch-based package that implements SBI algorithms based on neural networks. $\texttt{sbi}$ facilitates inference on black-box simulators for practising scientists and engineers by providing a unified interface to state-of-the-art algorithms together with documentation and tutorials.

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Alvaro Tejero-Cantero, Jan Boelts, Michael Deistler, Jan-Matthis Lueckmann, Conor Durkan, Pedro J. Gonçalves, David S. Greenberg, Jakob H. Macke

Scientists and engineers employ stochastic numerical simulators to model empirically observed phenomena. In contrast to purely statistical models, simulators express scientific principles that provide powerful inductive biases, improve generalization to new data or scenarios and allow for fewer, more interpretable and domain-relevant parameters. Despite these advantages, tuning a simulator's parameters so that its outputs match data is challenging. Simulation-based inference (SBI) seeks to identify parameter sets that a) are compatible with prior knowledge and b) match empirical observations. Importantly, SBI does not seek to recover a single 'best' data-compatible parameter set, but rather to identify all high probability regions of parameter space that explain observed data, and thereby to quantify parameter uncertainty. In Bayesian terminology, SBI aims to retrieve the posterior distribution over the parameters of interest. In contrast to conventional Bayesian inference, SBI is also applicable when one can run model simulations, but no formula or algorithm exists for evaluating the probability of data given parameters, i.e. the likelihood. We present $\texttt{sbi}$, a PyTorch-based package that implements SBI algorithms based on neural networks. $\texttt{sbi}$ facilitates inference on black-box simulators for practising scientists and engineers by providing a unified interface to state-of-the-art algorithms together with documentation and tutorials.

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Conor Durkan, Iain Murray, George Papamakarios

Likelihood-free methods perform parameter inference in stochastic simulator models where evaluating the likelihood is intractable but sampling synthetic data is possible. One class of methods for this likelihood-free problem uses a classifier to distinguish between pairs of parameter-observation samples generated using the simulator and pairs sampled from some reference distribution, which implicitly learns a density ratio proportional to the likelihood. Another popular class of methods fits a conditional distribution to the parameter posterior directly, and a particular recent variant allows for the use of flexible neural density estimators for this task. In this work, we show that both of these approaches can be unified under a general contrastive learning scheme, and clarify how they should be run and compared.

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Conor Durkan, Artur Bekasov, Iain Murray, George Papamakarios

A normalizing flow models a complex probability density as an invertible transformation of a simple base density. Flows based on either coupling or autoregressive transforms both offer exact density evaluation and sampling, but rely on the parameterization of an easily invertible elementwise transformation, whose choice determines the flexibility of these models. Building upon recent work, we propose a fully-differentiable module based on monotonic rational-quadratic splines, which enhances the flexibility of both coupling and autoregressive transforms while retaining analytic invertibility. We demonstrate that neural spline flows improve density estimation, variational inference, and generative modeling of images.

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Conor Durkan, Artur Bekasov, Iain Murray, George Papamakarios

A normalizing flow models a complex probability density as an invertible transformation of a simple density. The invertibility means that we can evaluate densities and generate samples from a flow. In practice, autoregressive flow-based models are slow to invert, making either density estimation or sample generation slow. Flows based on coupling transforms are fast for both tasks, but have previously performed less well at density estimation than autoregressive flows. We stack a new coupling transform, based on monotonic cubic splines, with LU-decomposed linear layers. The resulting cubic-spline flow retains an exact one-pass inverse, can be used to generate high-quality images, and closes the gap with autoregressive flows on a suite of density-estimation tasks.

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