Towards causal generative scene models via competition of experts

Learning how to model complex scenes in a modular way with recombinable components is a pre-requisite for higher-order reasoning and acting in the physical world. However, current generative models lack the ability to capture the inherently compositional and layered nature of visual scenes. While recent work has made progress towards unsupervised learning of object-based scene representations, most models still maintain a global representation space (i.e., objects are not explicitly separated), and cannot generate scenes with novel object arrangement and depth ordering. Here, we present an alternative approach which uses an inductive bias encouraging modularity by training an ensemble of generative models (experts). During training, experts compete for explaining parts of a scene, and thus specialise on different object classes, with objects being identified as parts that re-occur across multiple scenes. Our model allows for controllable sampling of individual objects and recombination of experts in physically plausible ways. In contrast to other methods, depth layering and occlusion are handled correctly, moving this approach closer to a causal generative scene model. Experiments on simple toy data qualitatively demonstrate the conceptual advantages of the proposed approach.

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