RStudio AI Weblog: Moving into the stream: Bijectors in TensorFlow Chance

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As of right now, deep studying’s biggest successes have taken place within the realm of supervised studying, requiring heaps and many annotated coaching knowledge. Nevertheless, knowledge doesn’t (usually) include annotations or labels. Additionally, unsupervised studying is engaging due to the analogy to human cognition.

On this weblog thus far, now we have seen two main architectures for unsupervised studying: variational autoencoders and generative adversarial networks. Lesser recognized, however interesting for conceptual in addition to for efficiency causes are normalizing flows (Jimenez Rezende and Mohamed 2015). On this and the subsequent submit, we’ll introduce flows, specializing in implement them utilizing TensorFlow Chance (TFP).

In distinction to earlier posts involving TFP that accessed its performance utilizing low-level $-syntax, we now make use of tfprobability, an R wrapper within the fashion of keras, tensorflow and tfdatasets. A notice relating to this package deal: It’s nonetheless beneath heavy growth and the API could change. As of this writing, wrappers don’t but exist for all TFP modules, however all TFP performance is obtainable utilizing $-syntax if want be.

Density estimation and sampling

Again to unsupervised studying, and particularly pondering of variational autoencoders, what are the principle issues they offer us? One factor that’s seldom lacking from papers on generative strategies are photos of super-real-looking faces (or mattress rooms, or animals …). So evidently sampling (or: technology) is a vital half. If we are able to pattern from a mannequin and procure real-seeming entities, this implies the mannequin has realized one thing about how issues are distributed on this planet: it has realized a distribution. Within the case of variational autoencoders, there’s extra: The entities are alleged to be decided by a set of distinct, disentangled (hopefully!) latent components. However this isn’t the idea within the case of normalizing flows, so we aren’t going to elaborate on this right here.

As a recap, how will we pattern from a VAE? We draw from (z), the latent variable, and run the decoder community on it. The consequence ought to – we hope – appear like it comes from the empirical knowledge distribution. It mustn’t, nevertheless, look precisely like all of the objects used to coach the VAE, or else now we have not realized something helpful.

The second factor we could get from a VAE is an evaluation of the plausibility of particular person knowledge, for use, for instance, in anomaly detection. Right here “plausibility” is imprecise on function: With VAE, we don’t have a way to compute an precise density beneath the posterior.

What if we would like, or want, each: technology of samples in addition to density estimation? That is the place normalizing flows are available in.

Normalizing flows

A stream is a sequence of differentiable, invertible mappings from knowledge to a “good” distribution, one thing we are able to simply pattern from and use to calculate a density. Let’s take as instance the canonical option to generate samples from some distribution, the exponential, say.

We begin by asking our random quantity generator for some quantity between 0 and 1:

This quantity we deal with as coming from a cumulative chance distribution (CDF) – from an exponential CDF, to be exact. Now that now we have a worth from the CDF, all we have to do is map that “again” to a worth. That mapping CDF -> worth we’re searching for is simply the inverse of the CDF of an exponential distribution, the CDF being

[F(x) = 1 – e^{-lambda x}]

The inverse then is

F^{-1}(u) = -frac{1}{lambda} ln (1 – u)

which implies we could get our exponential pattern doing

lambda <- 0.5 # choose some lambda
x <- -1/lambda * log(1-u)

We see the CDF is definitely a stream (or a constructing block thereof, if we image most flows as comprising a number of transformations), since

  • It maps knowledge to a uniform distribution between 0 and 1, permitting to evaluate knowledge probability.
  • Conversely, it maps a chance to an precise worth, thus permitting to generate samples.

From this instance, we see why a stream ought to be invertible, however we don’t but see why it ought to be differentiable. It will change into clear shortly, however first let’s check out how flows can be found in tfprobability.


TFP comes with a treasure trove of transformations, known as bijectors, starting from easy computations like exponentiation to extra advanced ones just like the discrete cosine remodel.

To get began, let’s use tfprobability to generate samples from the traditional distribution. There’s a bijector tfb_normal_cdf() that takes enter knowledge to the interval ([0,1]). Its inverse remodel then yields a random variable with the usual regular distribution:

Conversely, we are able to use this bijector to find out the (log) chance of a pattern from the traditional distribution. We’ll test in opposition to an easy use of tfd_normal within the distributions module:

x <- 2.01
d_n <- tfd_normal(loc = 0, scale = 1) 

d_n %>% tfd_log_prob(x) %>% as.numeric() # -2.938989

To acquire that very same log chance from the bijector, we add two parts:

  • Firstly, we run the pattern by way of the ahead transformation and compute log chance beneath the uniform distribution.
  • Secondly, as we’re utilizing the uniform distribution to find out chance of a standard pattern, we have to observe how chance adjustments beneath this transformation. That is carried out by calling tfb_forward_log_det_jacobian (to be additional elaborated on under).
b <- tfb_normal_cdf()
d_u <- tfd_uniform()

l <- d_u %>% tfd_log_prob(b %>% tfb_forward(x))
j <- b %>% tfb_forward_log_det_jacobian(x, event_ndims = 0)

(l + j) %>% as.numeric() # -2.938989

Why does this work? Let’s get some background.

Chance mass is conserved

Flows are based mostly on the precept that beneath transformation, chance mass is conserved. Say now we have a stream from (x) to (z): [z = f(x)]

Suppose we pattern from (z) after which, compute the inverse remodel to acquire (x). We all know the chance of (z). What’s the chance that (x), the reworked pattern, lies between (x_0) and (x_0 + dx)?

This chance is (p(x) dx), the density instances the size of the interval. This has to equal the chance that (z) lies between (f(x)) and (f(x + dx)). That new interval has size (f'(x) dx), so:

[p(x) dx = p(z) f'(x) dx]

Or equivalently

[p(x) = p(z) * dz/dx]

Thus, the pattern chance (p(x)) is set by the bottom chance (p(z)) of the reworked distribution, multiplied by how a lot the stream stretches area.

The identical goes in greater dimensions: Once more, the stream is concerning the change in chance quantity between the (z) and (y) areas:

[p(x) = p(z) frac{vol(dz)}{vol(dx)}]

In greater dimensions, the Jacobian replaces the spinoff. Then, the change in quantity is captured by absolutely the worth of its determinant:

[p(mathbf{x}) = p(f(mathbf{x})) bigg|detfrac{partial f({mathbf{x})}}{partial{mathbf{x}}}bigg|]

In follow, we work with log chances, so

[log p(mathbf{x}) = log p(f(mathbf{x})) + log bigg|detfrac{partial f({mathbf{x})}}{partial{mathbf{x}}}bigg| ]

Let’s see this with one other bijector instance, tfb_affine_scalar. Under, we assemble a mini-flow that maps just a few arbitrary chosen (x) values to double their worth (scale = 2):

x <- c(0, 0.5, 1)
b <- tfb_affine_scalar(shift = 0, scale = 2)

To match densities beneath the stream, we select the traditional distribution, and have a look at the log densities:

d_n <- tfd_normal(loc = 0, scale = 1)
d_n %>% tfd_log_prob(x) %>% as.numeric() # -0.9189385 -1.0439385 -1.4189385

Now apply the stream and compute the brand new log densities as a sum of the log densities of the corresponding (x) values and the log determinant of the Jacobian:

z <- b %>% tfb_forward(x)

(d_n  %>% tfd_log_prob(b %>% tfb_inverse(z))) +
  (b %>% tfb_inverse_log_det_jacobian(z, event_ndims = 0)) %>%
  as.numeric() # -1.6120857 -1.7370857 -2.1120858

We see that because the values get stretched in area (we multiply by 2), the person log densities go down. We will confirm the cumulative chance stays the identical utilizing tfd_transformed_distribution():

d_t <- tfd_transformed_distribution(distribution = d_n, bijector = b)
d_n %>% tfd_cdf(x) %>% as.numeric()  # 0.5000000 0.6914625 0.8413447

d_t %>% tfd_cdf(y) %>% as.numeric()  # 0.5000000 0.6914625 0.8413447

Up to now, the flows we noticed have been static – how does this match into the framework of neural networks?

Coaching a stream

Provided that flows are bidirectional, there are two methods to consider them. Above, now we have principally careworn the inverse mapping: We wish a easy distribution we are able to pattern from, and which we are able to use to compute a density. In that line, flows are typically known as “mappings from knowledge to noise” – noise principally being an isotropic Gaussian. Nevertheless in follow, we don’t have that “noise” but, we simply have knowledge. So in follow, now we have to be taught a stream that does such a mapping. We do that by utilizing bijectors with trainable parameters. We’ll see a quite simple instance right here, and go away “actual world flows” to the subsequent submit.

The instance is predicated on half 1 of Eric Jang’s introduction to normalizing flows. The primary distinction (aside from simplification to point out the essential sample) is that we’re utilizing keen execution.

We begin from a two-dimensional, isotropic Gaussian, and we need to mannequin knowledge that’s additionally regular, however with a imply of 1 and a variance of two (in each dimensions).


tfe_enable_eager_execution(device_policy = "silent")


# the place we begin from
base_dist <- tfd_multivariate_normal_diag(loc = c(0, 0))

# the place we need to go
target_dist <- tfd_multivariate_normal_diag(loc = c(1, 1), scale_identity_multiplier = 2)

# create coaching knowledge from the goal distribution
target_samples <- target_dist %>% tfd_sample(1000) %>% tf$forged(tf$float32)

batch_size <- 100
dataset <- tensor_slices_dataset(target_samples) %>%
  dataset_shuffle(buffer_size = dim(target_samples)[1]) %>%

Now we’ll construct a tiny neural community, consisting of an affine transformation and a nonlinearity. For the previous, we are able to make use of tfb_affine, the multi-dimensional relative of tfb_affine_scalar. As to nonlinearities, at the moment TFP comes with tfb_sigmoid and tfb_tanh, however we are able to construct our personal parameterized ReLU utilizing tfb_inline:

# alpha is a learnable parameter
bijector_leaky_relu <- perform(alpha) {
    # ahead remodel leaves constructive values untouched and scales detrimental ones by alpha
    forward_fn = perform(x)
      tf$the place(tf$greater_equal(x, 0), x, alpha * x),
    # inverse remodel leaves constructive values untouched and scales detrimental ones by 1/alpha
    inverse_fn = perform(y)
      tf$the place(tf$greater_equal(y, 0), y, 1/alpha * y),
    # quantity change is 0 when constructive and 1/alpha when detrimental
    inverse_log_det_jacobian_fn = perform(y) {
      I <- tf$ones_like(y)
      J_inv <- tf$the place(tf$greater_equal(y, 0), I, 1/alpha * I)
      log_abs_det_J_inv <- tf$log(tf$abs(J_inv))
      tf$reduce_sum(log_abs_det_J_inv, axis = 1L)
    forward_min_event_ndims = 1

Outline the learnable variables for the affine and the PReLU layers:

d <- 2 # dimensionality
r <- 2 # rank of replace

# shift of affine bijector
shift <- tf$get_variable("shift", d)
# scale of affine bijector
L <- tf$get_variable('L', c(d * (d + 1) / 2))
# rank-r replace
V <- tf$get_variable("V", c(d, r))

# scaling issue of parameterized relu
alpha <- tf$abs(tf$get_variable('alpha', listing())) + 0.01

With keen execution, the variables have for use contained in the loss perform, so that’s the place we outline the bijectors. Our little stream now’s a tfb_chain of bijectors, and we wrap it in a TransformedDistribution (tfd_transformed_distribution) that hyperlinks supply and goal distributions.

loss <- perform() {
 affine <- tfb_affine(
        scale_tril = tfb_fill_triangular() %>% tfb_forward(L),
        scale_perturb_factor = V,
        shift = shift
 lrelu <- bijector_leaky_relu(alpha = alpha)  
 stream <- listing(lrelu, affine) %>% tfb_chain()
 dist <- tfd_transformed_distribution(distribution = base_dist,
                          bijector = stream)
 l <- -tf$reduce_mean(dist$log_prob(batch))
 # maintain observe of progress
 print(spherical(as.numeric(l), 2))

Now we are able to truly run the coaching!

optimizer <- tf$practice$AdamOptimizer(1e-4)

n_epochs <- 100
for (i in 1:n_epochs) {
  iter <- make_iterator_one_shot(dataset)
    batch <- iterator_get_next(iter)

Outcomes will differ relying on random initialization, however you need to see a gentle (if sluggish) progress. Utilizing bijectors, now we have truly skilled and outlined just a little neural community.


Undoubtedly, this stream is simply too easy to mannequin advanced knowledge, however it’s instructive to have seen the essential rules earlier than delving into extra advanced flows. Within the subsequent submit, we’ll take a look at autoregressive flows, once more utilizing TFP and tfprobability.

Jimenez Rezende, Danilo, and Shakir Mohamed. 2015. “Variational Inference with Normalizing Flows.” arXiv e-Prints, Could, arXiv:1505.05770.


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