Research papers and code for "Danilo Jimenez Rezende":
In spite of remarkable progress in deep latent variable generative modeling, training still remains a challenge due to a combination of optimization and generalization issues. In practice, a combination of heuristic algorithms (such as hand-crafted annealing of KL-terms) is often used in order to achieve the desired results, but such solutions are not robust to changes in model architecture or dataset. The best settings can often vary dramatically from one problem to another, which requires doing expensive parameter sweeps for each new case. Here we develop on the idea of training VAEs with additional constraints as a way to control their behaviour. We first present a detailed theoretical analysis of constrained VAEs, expanding our understanding of how these models work. We then introduce and analyze a practical algorithm termed Generalized ELBO with Constrained Optimization, GECO. The main advantage of GECO for the machine learning practitioner is a more intuitive, yet principled, process of tuning the loss. This involves defining of a set of constraints, which typically have an explicit relation to the desired model performance, in contrast to tweaking abstract hyper-parameters which implicitly affect the model behavior. Encouraging experimental results in several standard datasets indicate that GECO is a very robust and effective tool to balance reconstruction and compression constraints.

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The choice of approximate posterior distribution is one of the core problems in variational inference. Most applications of variational inference employ simple families of posterior approximations in order to allow for efficient inference, focusing on mean-field or other simple structured approximations. This restriction has a significant impact on the quality of inferences made using variational methods. We introduce a new approach for specifying flexible, arbitrarily complex and scalable approximate posterior distributions. Our approximations are distributions constructed through a normalizing flow, whereby a simple initial density is transformed into a more complex one by applying a sequence of invertible transformations until a desired level of complexity is attained. We use this view of normalizing flows to develop categories of finite and infinitesimal flows and provide a unified view of approaches for constructing rich posterior approximations. We demonstrate that the theoretical advantages of having posteriors that better match the true posterior, combined with the scalability of amortized variational approaches, provides a clear improvement in performance and applicability of variational inference.

* Proceedings of the 32nd International Conference on Machine Learning
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The mutual information is a core statistical quantity that has applications in all areas of machine learning, whether this is in training of density models over multiple data modalities, in maximising the efficiency of noisy transmission channels, or when learning behaviour policies for exploration by artificial agents. Most learning algorithms that involve optimisation of the mutual information rely on the Blahut-Arimoto algorithm --- an enumerative algorithm with exponential complexity that is not suitable for modern machine learning applications. This paper provides a new approach for scalable optimisation of the mutual information by merging techniques from variational inference and deep learning. We develop our approach by focusing on the problem of intrinsically-motivated learning, where the mutual information forms the definition of a well-known internal drive known as empowerment. Using a variational lower bound on the mutual information, combined with convolutional networks for handling visual input streams, we develop a stochastic optimisation algorithm that allows for scalable information maximisation and empowerment-based reasoning directly from pixels to actions.

* Proceedings of the 29th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2015)
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In this paper we introduce a new unsupervised reinforcement learning method for discovering the set of intrinsic options available to an agent. This set is learned by maximizing the number of different states an agent can reliably reach, as measured by the mutual information between the set of options and option termination states. To this end, we instantiate two policy gradient based algorithms, one that creates an explicit embedding space of options and one that represents options implicitly. The algorithms also provide an explicit measure of empowerment in a given state that can be used by an empowerment maximizing agent. The algorithm scales well with function approximation and we demonstrate the applicability of the algorithm on a range of tasks.

* 15 pages, 6 figures
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We marry ideas from deep neural networks and approximate Bayesian inference to derive a generalised class of deep, directed generative models, endowed with a new algorithm for scalable inference and learning. Our algorithm introduces a recognition model to represent approximate posterior distributions, and that acts as a stochastic encoder of the data. We develop stochastic back-propagation -- rules for back-propagation through stochastic variables -- and use this to develop an algorithm that allows for joint optimisation of the parameters of both the generative and recognition model. We demonstrate on several real-world data sets that the model generates realistic samples, provides accurate imputations of missing data and is a useful tool for high-dimensional data visualisation.

* Appears In Proceedings of the 31st International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), JMLR: W\&CP volume 32, 2014
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Humans have an impressive ability to reason about new concepts and experiences from just a single example. In particular, humans have an ability for one-shot generalization: an ability to encounter a new concept, understand its structure, and then be able to generate compelling alternative variations of the concept. We develop machine learning systems with this important capacity by developing new deep generative models, models that combine the representational power of deep learning with the inferential power of Bayesian reasoning. We develop a class of sequential generative models that are built on the principles of feedback and attention. These two characteristics lead to generative models that are among the state-of-the art in density estimation and image generation. We demonstrate the one-shot generalization ability of our models using three tasks: unconditional sampling, generating new exemplars of a given concept, and generating new exemplars of a family of concepts. In all cases our models are able to generate compelling and diverse samples---having seen new examples just once---providing an important class of general-purpose models for one-shot machine learning.

* 8pgs, 1pg references, 1pg appendix, In Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning, JMLR: W&CP volume 48, 2016
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We introduce a simple recurrent variational auto-encoder architecture that significantly improves image modeling. The system represents the state-of-the-art in latent variable models for both the ImageNet and Omniglot datasets. We show that it naturally separates global conceptual information from lower level details, thus addressing one of the fundamentally desired properties of unsupervised learning. Furthermore, the possibility of restricting ourselves to storing only global information about an image allows us to achieve high quality 'conceptual compression'.

* 14 pages, 13 figures
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This paper introduces the Deep Recurrent Attentive Writer (DRAW) neural network architecture for image generation. DRAW networks combine a novel spatial attention mechanism that mimics the foveation of the human eye, with a sequential variational auto-encoding framework that allows for the iterative construction of complex images. The system substantially improves on the state of the art for generative models on MNIST, and, when trained on the Street View House Numbers dataset, it generates images that cannot be distinguished from real data with the naked eye.

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When agents interact with a complex environment, they must form and maintain beliefs about the relevant aspects of that environment. We propose a way to efficiently train expressive generative models in complex environments. We show that a predictive algorithm with an expressive generative model can form stable belief-states in visually rich and dynamic 3D environments. More precisely, we show that the learned representation captures the layout of the environment as well as the position and orientation of the agent. Our experiments show that the model substantially improves data-efficiency on a number of reinforcement learning (RL) tasks compared with strong model-free baseline agents. We find that predicting multiple steps into the future (overshooting), in combination with an expressive generative model, is critical for stable representations to emerge. In practice, using expressive generative models in RL is computationally expensive and we propose a scheme to reduce this computational burden, allowing us to build agents that are competitive with model-free baselines.

* pre-print
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In model-based reinforcement learning, generative and temporal models of environments can be leveraged to boost agent performance, either by tuning the agent's representations during training or via use as part of an explicit planning mechanism. However, their application in practice has been limited to simplistic environments, due to the difficulty of training such models in larger, potentially partially-observed and 3D environments. In this work we introduce a novel action-conditioned generative model of such challenging environments. The model features a non-parametric spatial memory system in which we store learned, disentangled representations of the environment. Low-dimensional spatial updates are computed using a state-space model that makes use of knowledge on the prior dynamics of the moving agent, and high-dimensional visual observations are modelled with a Variational Auto-Encoder. The result is a scalable architecture capable of performing coherent predictions over hundreds of time steps across a range of partially observed 2D and 3D environments.

* ICML 2018
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A key goal of computer vision is to recover the underlying 3D structure from 2D observations of the world. In this paper we learn strong deep generative models of 3D structures, and recover these structures from 3D and 2D images via probabilistic inference. We demonstrate high-quality samples and report log-likelihoods on several datasets, including ShapeNet [2], and establish the first benchmarks in the literature. We also show how these models and their inference networks can be trained end-to-end from 2D images. This demonstrates for the first time the feasibility of learning to infer 3D representations of the world in a purely unsupervised manner.

* Appears in Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 29 (NIPS 2016)
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Medical imaging only indirectly measures the molecular identity of the tissue within each voxel, which often produces only ambiguous image evidence for target measures of interest, like semantic segmentation. This diversity and the variations of plausible interpretations are often specific to given image regions and may thus manifest on various scales, spanning all the way from the pixel to the image level. In order to learn a flexible distribution that can account for multiple scales of variations, we propose the Hierarchical Probabilistic U-Net, a segmentation network with a conditional variational auto-encoder (cVAE) that uses a hierarchical latent space decomposition. We show that this model formulation enables sampling and reconstruction of segmenations with high fidelity, i.e. with finely resolved detail, while providing the flexibility to learn complex structured distributions across scales. We demonstrate these abilities on the task of segmenting ambiguous medical scans as well as on instance segmentation of neurobiological and natural images. Our model automatically separates independent factors across scales, an inductive bias that we deem beneficial in structured output prediction tasks beyond segmentation.

* 25 pages, 15 figures
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Many real-world vision problems suffer from inherent ambiguities. In clinical applications for example, it might not be clear from a CT scan alone which particular region is cancer tissue. Therefore a group of graders typically produces a set of diverse but plausible segmentations. We consider the task of learning a distribution over segmentations given an input. To this end we propose a generative segmentation model based on a combination of a U-Net with a conditional variational autoencoder that is capable of efficiently producing an unlimited number of plausible hypotheses. We show on a lung abnormalities segmentation task and on a Cityscapes segmentation task that our model reproduces the possible segmentation variants as well as the frequencies with which they occur, doing so significantly better than published approaches. These models could have a high impact in real-world applications, such as being used as clinical decision-making algorithms accounting for multiple plausible semantic segmentation hypotheses to provide possible diagnoses and recommend further actions to resolve the present ambiguities.

* 11 pages for the main paper, 28 pages including appendix. 5 figures in the main paper, 18 figures in total, Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2018
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We introduce Imagination-Augmented Agents (I2As), a novel architecture for deep reinforcement learning combining model-free and model-based aspects. In contrast to most existing model-based reinforcement learning and planning methods, which prescribe how a model should be used to arrive at a policy, I2As learn to interpret predictions from a learned environment model to construct implicit plans in arbitrary ways, by using the predictions as additional context in deep policy networks. I2As show improved data efficiency, performance, and robustness to model misspecification compared to several baselines.

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