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

*Kyriakos Flouris, Ender Konukoglu*

Manifold learning flows are a class of generative modelling techniques that assume a low-dimensional manifold description of the data. The embedding of such a manifold into the high-dimensional space of the data is achieved via learnable invertible transformations. Therefore, once the manifold is properly aligned via a reconstruction loss, the probability density is tractable on the manifold and maximum likelihood can be used to optimize the network parameters. Naturally, the lower-dimensional representation of the data requires an injective-mapping. Recent approaches were able to enforce that the density aligns with the modelled manifold, while efficiently calculating the density volume-change term when embedding to the higher-dimensional space. However, unless the injective-mapping is analytically predefined, the learned manifold is not necessarily an \emph{efficient representation} of the data. Namely, the latent dimensions of such models frequently learn an entangled intrinsic basis, with degenerate information being stored in each dimension. Alternatively, if a locally orthogonal and/or sparse basis is to be learned, here coined canonical intrinsic basis, it can serve in learning a more compact latent space representation. Toward this end, we propose a canonical manifold learning flow method, where a novel optimization objective enforces the transformation matrix to have few prominent and non-degenerate basis functions. We demonstrate that by minimizing the off-diagonal manifold metric elements $\ell_1$-norm, we can achieve such a basis, which is simultaneously sparse and/or orthogonal. Canonical manifold flow yields a more efficient use of the latent space, automatically generating fewer prominent and distinct dimensions to represent data, and consequently a better approximation of target distributions than other manifold flow methods in most experiments we conducted, resulting in lower FID scores.

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