Semi-Discrete Normalizing Flows through Differentiable Tessellation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 35 (NeurIPS 2022) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Ricky T. Q. Chen, Brandon Amos, Maximilian Nickel


Mapping between discrete and continuous distributions is a difficult task and many have had to resort to heuristical approaches. We propose a tessellation-based approach that directly learns quantization boundaries in a continuous space, complete with exact likelihood evaluations. This is done through constructing normalizing flows on convex polytopes parameterized using a simple homeomorphism with an efficient log determinant Jacobian. We explore this approach in two application settings, mapping from discrete to continuous and vice versa. Firstly, a Voronoi dequantization allows automatically learning quantization boundaries in a multidimensional space. The location of boundaries and distances between regions can encode useful structural relations between the quantized discrete values. Secondly, a Voronoi mixture model has near-constant computation cost for likelihood evaluation regardless of the number of mixture components. Empirically, we show improvements over existing methods across a range of structured data modalities.