Multi-stage variational auto-encoders for coarse-to-fine image generation
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Copyright 2019 by SIAM. Variational auto-encoder (VAE) is a powerful unsupervised learning framework for image generation. One drawback of VAE is that it generates blurry images due to its Gaussianity assumption and thus 2 loss. To allow the generation of high quality images by VAE, we increase the capacity of decoder network by employing residual blocks and skip connections, which also enable efficient optimization. To overcome the limitation of 2 loss, we propose to generate images in a multi-stage manner from coarse to fine. In the simplest case, the proposed multi-stage VAE divides the decoder into two components in which the second component generates refined images based on the course images generated by the first component. Since the second component is independent of the VAE model, it can employ other loss functions beyond the 2 loss and different model architectures. The proposed framework can be easily generalized to contain more than two components. Experiment results on the MNIST and CelebA datasets demonstrate that the proposed multi-stage VAE can generate sharper images as compared to those from the original VAE.