Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)
Amir H. Khoshaman, Mohammad Amin
Boltzmann machines (BMs) are appealing candidates for powerful priors in variational autoencoders (VAEs), as they are capable of capturing nontrivial and multi-modal distributions over discrete variables. However, non-differentiability of the discrete units prohibits using the reparameterization trick, essential for low-noise back propagation. The Gumbel trick resolves this problem in a consistent way by relaxing the variables and distributions, but it is incompatible with BM priors. Here, we propose the GumBolt, a model that extends the Gumbel trick to BM priors in VAEs. GumBolt is significantly simpler than the recently proposed methods with BM prior and outperforms them by a considerable margin. It achieves state-of-the-art performance on permutation invariant MNIST and OMNIGLOT datasets in the scope of models with only discrete latent variables. Moreover, the performance can be further improved by allowing multi-sampled (importance-weighted) estimation of log-likelihood in training, which was not possible with previous models.