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Abstract:We formulate well-posed continuous-time generative flows for learning distributions that are supported on low-dimensional manifolds through Wasserstein proximal regularizations of $f$-divergences. Wasserstein-1 proximal operators regularize $f$-divergences so that singular distributions can be compared. Meanwhile, Wasserstein-2 proximal operators regularize the paths of the generative flows by adding an optimal transport cost, i.e., a kinetic energy penalization. Via mean-field game theory, we show that the combination of the two proximals is critical for formulating well-posed generative flows. Generative flows can be analyzed through optimality conditions of a mean-field game (MFG), a system of a backward Hamilton-Jacobi (HJ) and a forward continuity partial differential equations (PDEs) whose solution characterizes the optimal generative flow. For learning distributions that are supported on low-dimensional manifolds, the MFG theory shows that the Wasserstein-1 proximal, which addresses the HJ terminal condition, and the Wasserstein-2 proximal, which addresses the HJ dynamics, are both necessary for the corresponding backward-forward PDE system to be well-defined and have a unique solution with provably linear flow trajectories. This implies that the corresponding generative flow is also unique and can therefore be learned in a robust manner even for learning high-dimensional distributions supported on low-dimensional manifolds. The generative flows are learned through adversarial training of continuous-time flows, which bypasses the need for reverse simulation. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach for generating high-dimensional images without the need to resort to autoencoders or specialized architectures.

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Abstract:Through an uncertainty quantification (UQ) perspective, we show that score-based generative models (SGMs) are provably robust to the multiple sources of error in practical implementation. Our primary tool is the Wasserstein uncertainty propagation (WUP) theorem, a model-form UQ bound that describes how the $L^2$ error from learning the score function propagates to a Wasserstein-1 ($\mathbf{d}_1$) ball around the true data distribution under the evolution of the Fokker-Planck equation. We show how errors due to (a) finite sample approximation, (b) early stopping, (c) score-matching objective choice, (d) score function parametrization expressiveness, and (e) reference distribution choice, impact the quality of the generative model in terms of a $\mathbf{d}_1$ bound of computable quantities. The WUP theorem relies on Bernstein estimates for Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman partial differential equations (PDE) and the regularizing properties of diffusion processes. Specifically, PDE regularity theory shows that stochasticity is the key mechanism ensuring SGM algorithms are provably robust. The WUP theorem applies to integral probability metrics beyond $\mathbf{d}_1$, such as the total variation distance and the maximum mean discrepancy. Sample complexity and generalization bounds in $\mathbf{d}_1$ follow directly from the WUP theorem. Our approach requires minimal assumptions, is agnostic to the manifold hypothesis and avoids absolute continuity assumptions for the target distribution. Additionally, our results clarify the trade-offs among multiple error sources in SGMs.

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Abstract:We present a novel method for training score-based generative models which uses nonlinear noising dynamics to improve learning of structured distributions. Generalizing to a nonlinear drift allows for additional structure to be incorporated into the dynamics, thus making the training better adapted to the data, e.g., in the case of multimodality or (approximate) symmetries. Such structure can be obtained from the data by an inexpensive preprocessing step. The nonlinear dynamics introduces new challenges into training which we address in two ways: 1) we develop a new nonlinear denoising score matching (NDSM) method, 2) we introduce neural control variates in order to reduce the variance of the NDSM training objective. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this method on several examples: a) a collection of low-dimensional examples, motivated by clustering in latent space, b) high-dimensional images, addressing issues with mode collapse, small training sets, and approximate symmetries, the latter being a challenge for methods based on equivariant neural networks, which require exact symmetries.

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Abstract:In this paper, we propose Wasserstein proximals of $\alpha$-divergences as suitable objective functionals for learning heavy-tailed distributions in a stable manner. First, we provide sufficient, and in some cases necessary, relations among data dimension, $\alpha$, and the decay rate of data distributions for the Wasserstein-proximal-regularized divergence to be finite. Finite-sample convergence rates for the estimation in the case of the Wasserstein-1 proximal divergences are then provided under certain tail conditions. Numerical experiments demonstrate stable learning of heavy-tailed distributions -- even those without first or second moment -- without any explicit knowledge of the tail behavior, using suitable generative models such as GANs and flow-based models related to our proposed Wasserstein-proximal-regularized $\alpha$-divergences. Heuristically, $\alpha$-divergences handle the heavy tails and Wasserstein proximals allow non-absolute continuity between distributions and control the velocities of flow-based algorithms as they learn the target distribution deep into the tails.

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Abstract:We focus on the fundamental mathematical structure of score-based generative models (SGMs). We first formulate SGMs in terms of the Wasserstein proximal operator (WPO) and demonstrate that, via mean-field games (MFGs), the WPO formulation reveals mathematical structure that describes the inductive bias of diffusion and score-based models. In particular, MFGs yield optimality conditions in the form of a pair of coupled partial differential equations: a forward-controlled Fokker-Planck (FP) equation, and a backward Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman (HJB) equation. Via a Cole-Hopf transformation and taking advantage of the fact that the cross-entropy can be related to a linear functional of the density, we show that the HJB equation is an uncontrolled FP equation. Second, with the mathematical structure at hand, we present an interpretable kernel-based model for the score function which dramatically improves the performance of SGMs in terms of training samples and training time. In addition, the WPO-informed kernel model is explicitly constructed to avoid the recently studied memorization effects of score-based generative models. The mathematical form of the new kernel-based models in combination with the use of the terminal condition of the MFG reveals new explanations for the manifold learning and generalization properties of SGMs, and provides a resolution to their memorization effects. Finally, our mathematically informed, interpretable kernel-based model suggests new scalable bespoke neural network architectures for high-dimensional applications.

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Abstract:Group-invariant generative adversarial networks (GANs) are a type of GANs in which the generators and discriminators are hardwired with group symmetries. Empirical studies have shown that these networks are capable of learning group-invariant distributions with significantly improved data efficiency. In this study, we aim to rigorously quantify this improvement by analyzing the reduction in sample complexity for group-invariant GANs. Our findings indicate that when learning group-invariant distributions, the number of samples required for group-invariant GANs decreases proportionally with a power of the group size, and this power depends on the intrinsic dimension of the distribution's support. To our knowledge, this work presents the first statistical estimation for group-invariant generative models, specifically for GANs, and it may shed light on the study of other group-invariant generative models.

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Abstract:In this paper, we demonstrate the versatility of mean-field games (MFGs) as a mathematical framework for explaining, enhancing, and designing generative models. There is a pervasive sense in the generative modeling community that the various flow and diffusion-based generative models have some common foundational structure and interrelationships. We establish connections between MFGs and major classes of flow and diffusion-based generative models including continuous-time normalizing flows, score-based models, and Wasserstein gradient flows. We derive these three classes of generative models through different choices of particle dynamics and cost functions. Furthermore, we study the mathematical structure and properties of each generative model by studying their associated MFG's optimality condition, which is a set of coupled forward-backward nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs). The theory of MFGs, therefore, enables the study of generative models through the theory of nonlinear PDEs. Through this perspective, we investigate the well-posedness and structure of normalizing flows, unravel the mathematical structure of score-based generative modeling, and derive a mean-field game formulation of the Wasserstein gradient flow. From an algorithmic perspective, the optimality conditions of MFGs also allow us to introduce HJB regularizers for enhanced training of a broad class of generative models. In particular, we propose and demonstrate an Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman regularized SGM with improved performance over standard SGMs. We present this framework as an MFG laboratory which serves as a platform for revealing new avenues of experimentation and invention of generative models. This laboratory will give rise to a multitude of well-posed generative modeling formulations and will provide a consistent theoretical framework upon which numerical and algorithmic tools may be developed.

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Abstract:We rigorously quantify the improvement in the sample complexity of variational divergence estimations for group-invariant distributions. In the cases of the Wasserstein-1 metric and the Lipschitz-regularized $\alpha$-divergences, the reduction of sample complexity is proportional to an ambient-dimension-dependent power of the group size. For the maximum mean discrepancy (MMD), the improvement of sample complexity is more nuanced, as it depends on not only the group size but also the choice of kernel. Numerical simulations verify our theories.

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Abstract:Lipschitz regularized f-divergences are constructed by imposing a bound on the Lipschitz constant of the discriminator in the variational representation. They interpolate between the Wasserstein metric and f-divergences and provide a flexible family of loss functions for non-absolutely continuous (e.g. empirical) distributions, possibly with heavy tails. We construct Lipschitz regularized gradient flows on the space of probability measures based on these divergences. Examples of such gradient flows are Lipschitz regularized Fokker-Planck and porous medium partial differential equations (PDEs) for the Kullback-Leibler and alpha-divergences, respectively. The regularization corresponds to imposing a Courant-Friedrichs-Lewy numerical stability condition on the PDEs. For empirical measures, the Lipschitz regularization on gradient flows induces a numerically stable transporter/discriminator particle algorithm, where the generative particles are transported along the gradient of the discriminator. The gradient structure leads to a regularized Fisher information (particle kinetic energy) used to track the convergence of the algorithm. The Lipschitz regularized discriminator can be implemented via neural network spectral normalization and the particle algorithm generates approximate samples from possibly high-dimensional distributions known only from data. Notably, our particle algorithm can generate synthetic data even in small sample size regimes. A new data processing inequality for the regularized divergence allows us to combine our particle algorithm with representation learning, e.g. autoencoder architectures. The resulting algorithm yields markedly improved generative properties in terms of efficiency and quality of the synthetic samples. From a statistical mechanics perspective the encoding can be interpreted dynamically as learning a better mobility for the generative particles.

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Abstract:We propose a new family of regularized R\'enyi divergences parametrized not only by the order $\alpha$ but also by a variational function space. These new objects are defined by taking the infimal convolution of the standard R\'enyi divergence with the integral probability metric (IPM) associated with the chosen function space. We derive a novel dual variational representation that can be used to construct numerically tractable divergence estimators. This representation avoids risk-sensitive terms and therefore exhibits lower variance, making it well-behaved when $\alpha>1$; this addresses a notable weakness of prior approaches. We prove several properties of these new divergences, showing that they interpolate between the classical R\'enyi divergences and IPMs. We also study the $\alpha\to\infty$ limit, which leads to a regularized worst-case-regret and a new variational representation in the classical case. Moreover, we show that the proposed regularized R\'enyi divergences inherit features from IPMs such as the ability to compare distributions that are not absolutely continuous, e.g., empirical measures and distributions with low-dimensional support. We present numerical results on both synthetic and real datasets, showing the utility of these new divergences in both estimation and GAN training applications; in particular, we demonstrate significantly reduced variance and improved training performance.

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