Oral Session 5: Generative Modeling

Moderator: Jascha Sohl-Dickstein

Fri 10 Dec 4 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


Chat is not available.

Fri 10 Dec. 16:00 - 16:15 PST

Moser Flow: Divergence-based Generative Modeling on Manifolds

Noam Rozen · Aditya Grover · Maximilian Nickel · Yaron Lipman

We are interested in learning generative models for complex geometries described via manifolds, such as spheres, tori, and other implicit surfaces. Current extensions of existing (Euclidean) generative models are restricted to specific geometries and typically suffer from high computational costs. We introduce Moser Flow (MF), a new class of generative models within the family of continuous normalizing flows (CNF). MF also produces a CNF via a solution to the change-of-variable formula, however differently from other CNF methods, its model (learned) density is parameterized as the source (prior) density minus the divergence of a neural network (NN). The divergence is a local, linear differential operator, easy to approximate and calculate on manifolds. Therefore, unlike other CNFs, MF does not require invoking or backpropagating through an ODE solver during training. Furthermore, representing the model density explicitly as the divergence of a NN rather than as a solution of an ODE facilitates learning high fidelity densities. Theoretically, we prove that MF constitutes a universal density approximator under suitable assumptions. Empirically, we demonstrate for the first time the use of flow models for sampling from general curved surfaces and achieve significant improvements in density estimation, sample quality, and training complexity over existing CNFs on challenging synthetic geometries and real-world benchmarks from the earth and climate sciences.

Fri 10 Dec. 16:15 - 16:20 PST


Fri 10 Dec. 16:20 - 16:35 PST

Drop, Swap, and Generate: A Self-Supervised Approach for Generating Neural Activity

Ran Liu · Mehdi Azabou · Max Dabagia · Chi-Heng Lin · Mohammad Gheshlaghi Azar · Keith Hengen · Michal Valko · Eva Dyer

Meaningful and simplified representations of neural activity can yield insights into how and what information is being processed within a neural circuit. However, without labels, finding representations that reveal the link between the brain and behavior can be challenging. Here, we introduce a novel unsupervised approach for learning disentangled representations of neural activity called Swap-VAE. Our approach combines a generative modeling framework with an instance-specific alignment loss that tries to maximize the representational similarity between transformed views of the input (brain state). These transformed (or augmented) views are created by dropping out neurons and jittering samples in time, which intuitively should lead the network to a representation that maintains both temporal consistency and invariance to the specific neurons used to represent the neural state. Through evaluations on both synthetic data and neural recordings from hundreds of neurons in different primate brains, we show that it is possible to build representations that disentangle neural datasets along relevant latent dimensions linked to behavior.

Fri 10 Dec. 16:35 - 16:40 PST


Fri 10 Dec. 16:40 - 16:55 PST

Learning Treatment Effects in Panels with General Intervention Patterns

Vivek Farias · Andrew Li · Tianyi Peng

The problem of causal inference with panel data is a central econometric question. The following is a fundamental version of this problem: Let $M^*$ be a low rank matrix and $E$ be a zero-mean noise matrix. For a `treatment' matrix $Z$ with entries in $\{0,1\}$ we observe the matrix $O$ with entries $O_{ij} := M^*_{ij} + E_{ij} + \mathcal{T}_{ij} Z_{ij}$ where $\mathcal{T}_{ij} $ are unknown, heterogenous treatment effects. The problem requires we estimate the average treatment effect $\tau^* := \sum_{ij} \mathcal{T}_{ij} Z_{ij} / \sum_{ij} Z_{ij}$. The synthetic control paradigm provides an approach to estimating $\tau^*$ when $Z$ places support on a single row. This paper extends that framework to allow rate-optimal recovery of $\tau^*$ for general $Z$, thus broadly expanding its applicability. Our guarantees are the first of their type in this general setting. Computational experiments on synthetic and real-world data show a substantial advantage over competing estimators.

Fri 10 Dec. 16:55 - 17:00 PST