A Multi-Resolution Framework for U-Nets with Applications to Hierarchical VAEs

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

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Fabian Falck, Christopher Williams, Dominic Danks, George Deligiannidis, Christopher Yau, Chris C Holmes, Arnaud Doucet, Matthew Willetts


U-Net architectures are ubiquitous in state-of-the-art deep learning, however their regularisation properties and relationship to wavelets are understudied. In this paper, we formulate a multi-resolution framework which identifies U-Nets as finite-dimensional truncations of models on an infinite-dimensional function space. We provide theoretical results which prove that average pooling corresponds to projection within the space of square-integrable functions and show that U-Nets with average pooling implicitly learn a Haar wavelet basis representation of the data. We then leverage our framework to identify state-of-the-art hierarchical VAEs (HVAEs), which have a U-Net architecture, as a type of two-step forward Euler discretisation of multi-resolution diffusion processes which flow from a point mass, introducing sampling instabilities. We also demonstrate that HVAEs learn a representation of time which allows for improved parameter efficiency through weight-sharing. We use this observation to achieve state-of-the-art HVAE performance with half the number of parameters of existing models, exploiting the properties of our continuous-time formulation.