PixelGAN Autoencoders

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017)

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Alireza Makhzani, Brendan J. Frey


In this paper, we describe the "PixelGAN autoencoder", a generative autoencoder in which the generative path is a convolutional autoregressive neural network on pixels (PixelCNN) that is conditioned on a latent code, and the recognition path uses a generative adversarial network (GAN) to impose a prior distribution on the latent code. We show that different priors result in different decompositions of information between the latent code and the autoregressive decoder. For example, by imposing a Gaussian distribution as the prior, we can achieve a global vs. local decomposition, or by imposing a categorical distribution as the prior, we can disentangle the style and content information of images in an unsupervised fashion. We further show how the PixelGAN autoencoder with a categorical prior can be directly used in semi-supervised settings and achieve competitive semi-supervised classification results on the MNIST, SVHN and NORB datasets.