Disentangling factors of variation in deep representation using adversarial training

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 29 (NIPS 2016)

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Michael F. Mathieu, Junbo Jake Zhao, Junbo Zhao, Aditya Ramesh, Pablo Sprechmann, Yann LeCun


We propose a deep generative model for learning to distill the hidden factors of variation within a set of labeled observations into two complementary codes. One code describes the factors of variation relevant to solving a specified task. The other code describes the remaining factors of variation that are irrelevant to solving this task. The only available source of supervision during the training process comes from our ability to distinguish among different observations belonging to the same category. Concrete examples include multiple images of the same object from different viewpoints, or multiple speech samples from the same speaker. In both of these instances, the factors of variation irrelevant to classification are implicitly expressed by intra-class variabilities, such as the relative position of an object in an image, or the linguistic content of an utterance. Most existing approaches for solving this problem rely heavily on having access to pairs of observations only sharing a single factor of variation, e.g. different objects observed in the exact same conditions. This assumption is often not encountered in realistic settings where data acquisition is not controlled and labels for the uninformative components are not available. In this work, we propose to overcome this limitation by augmenting deep convolutional autoencoders with a form of adversarial training. Both factors of variation are implicitly captured in the organization of the learned embedding space, and can be used for solving single-image analogies. Experimental results on synthetic and real datasets show that the proposed method is capable of disentangling the influences of style and content factors using a flexible representation, as well as generalizing to unseen styles or content classes.