ICLR 2019  ·  Dejiao Zhang, Tianchen Zhao, Laura Balzano ·

We propose the Information Maximization Autoencoder (IMAE), an information theoretic approach to simultaneously learn continuous and discrete representations in an unsupervised setting. Unlike the Variational Autoencoder framework, IMAE starts from a stochastic encoder that seeks to map each input data to a hybrid discrete and continuous representation with the objective of maximizing the mutual information between the data and their representations. A decoder is included to approximate the posterior distribution of the data given their representations, where a high fidelity approximation can be achieved by leveraging the informative representations. We show that the proposed objective is theoretically valid and provides a principled framework for understanding the tradeoffs regarding informativeness of each representation factor, disentanglement of representations, and decoding quality.

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