Cyprien de Masson d'Autume, Shakir Mohamed, Mihaela Rosca, Jack Rae
Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) enjoy great success at image generation, but have proven difficult to train in the domain of natural language. Challenges with gradient estimation, optimization instability, and mode collapse have lead practitioners to resort to maximum likelihood pre-training, followed by small amounts of adversarial fine-tuning. The benefits of GAN fine-tuning for language generation are unclear, as the resulting models produce comparable or worse samples than traditional language models. We show it is in fact possible to train a language GAN from scratch --- without maximum likelihood pre-training. We combine existing techniques such as large batch sizes, dense rewards and discriminator regularization to stabilize and improve language GANs. The resulting model, ScratchGAN, performs comparably to maximum likelihood training on EMNLP2017 News and WikiText-103 corpora according to quality and diversity metrics.