Energy-Based Sliced Wasserstein Distance

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Khai Nguyen, Nhat Ho


The sliced Wasserstein (SW) distance has been widely recognized as a statistically effective and computationally efficient metric between two probability measures. A key component of the SW distance is the slicing distribution. There are two existing approaches for choosing this distribution. The first approach is using a fixed prior distribution. The second approach is optimizing for the best distribution which belongs to a parametric family of distributions and can maximize the expected distance. However, both approaches have their limitations. A fixed prior distribution is non-informative in terms of highlighting projecting directions that can discriminate two general probability measures. Doing optimization for the best distribution is often expensive and unstable. Moreover, designing the parametric family of the candidate distribution could be easily misspecified. To address the issues, we propose to design the slicing distribution as an energy-based distribution that is parameter-free and has the density proportional to an energy function of the projected one-dimensional Wasserstein distance. We then derive a novel sliced Wasserstein variant, energy-based sliced Waserstein (EBSW) distance, and investigate its topological, statistical, and computational properties via importance sampling, sampling importance resampling, and Markov Chain methods. Finally, we conduct experiments on point-cloud gradient flow, color transfer, and point-cloud reconstruction to show the favorable performance of the EBSW.