On the Frequency Bias of Generative Models

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

Paper Supplemental

Bibtek download is not available in the pre-proceeding


Katja Schwarz, Yiyi Liao, Andreas Geiger


The key objective of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) is to generate new data with the same statistics as the provided training data. However, multiple recent works show that state-of-the-art architectures yet struggle to achieve this goal. In particular, they report an elevated amount of high frequencies in the spectral statistics which makes it straightforward to distinguish real and generated images. Explanations for this phenomenon are controversial: While most works attribute the artifacts to the generator, other works point to the discriminator. We take a sober look at those explanations and provide insights on what makes proposed measures against high-frequency artifacts effective. To achieve this, we first independently assess the architectures of both the generator and discriminator and investigate if they exhibit a frequency bias that makes learning the distribution of high-frequency content particularly problematic. Based on these experiments, we make the following four observations: 1) Different upsampling operations bias the generator towards different spectral properties. 2) Checkerboard artifacts introduced by upsampling cannot explain the spectral discrepancies alone as the generator is able to compensate for these artifacts. 3) The discriminator does not struggle with detecting high frequencies per se but rather struggles with frequencies of low magnitude. 4) The downsampling operations in the discriminator can impair the quality of the training signal it provides.In light of these findings, we analyze proposed measures against high-frequency artifacts in state-of-the-art GAN training but find that none of the existing approaches can fully resolve spectral artifacts yet. Our results suggest that there is great potential in improving the discriminator and that this could be key to match the distribution of the training data more closely.