Visual Programming for Step-by-Step Text-to-Image Generation and Evaluation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Jaemin Cho, Abhay Zala, Mohit Bansal


As large language models have demonstrated impressive performance in many domains, recent works have adopted language models (LMs) as controllers of visual modules for vision-and-language tasks. While existing work focuses on equipping LMs with visual understanding, we propose two novel interpretable/explainable visual programming frameworks for text-to-image (T2I) generation and evaluation. First, we introduce VPGen, an interpretable step-by-step T2I generation framework that decomposes T2I generation into three steps: object/count generation, layout generation, and image generation. We employ an LM to handle the first two steps (object/count generation and layout generation), by finetuning it on text-layout pairs. Our step-by-step T2I generation framework provides stronger spatial control than end-to-end models, the dominant approach for this task. Furthermore, we leverage the world knowledge of pretrained LMs, overcoming the limitation of previous layout-guided T2I works that can only handle predefined object classes. We demonstrate that our VPGen has improved control in counts/spatial relations/scales of objects than state-of-the-art T2I generation models. Second, we introduce VPEval, an interpretable and explainable evaluation framework for T2I generation based on visual programming. Unlike previous T2I evaluations with a single scoring model that is accurate in some skills but unreliable in others, VPEval produces evaluation programs that invoke a set of visual modules that are experts in different skills, and also provides visual+textual explanations of the evaluation results. Our analysis shows that VPEval provides a more human-correlated evaluation for skill-specific and open-ended prompts than widely used single model-based evaluation. We hope that our work encourages future progress on interpretable/explainable generation and evaluation for T2I models.