Educating Text Autoencoders: Latent Representation Guidance via Denoising

Jul 12, 2020



Generative autoencoders offer a promising approach for controllable text generation by leveraging their learned sentence representations. However, current models struggle to maintain coherent latent spaces required to perform meaningful text manipulations via latent vector operations. Specifically, we demonstrate by example that neural encoders do not necessarily map similar sentences to nearby latent vectors. A theoretical explanation for this phenomenon establishes that high-capacity autoencoders can learn an arbitrary mapping between sequences and associated latent representations. To remedy this issue, we augment adversarial autoencoders with a denoising objective where original sentences are reconstructed from perturbed versions (referred as DAAE). We prove that this simple modification guides the latent space geometry of the resulting model by encouraging the encoder to map similar texts to similar latent representations. In empirical comparisons with various types of autoencoders, our model provides the best trade-off between generation quality and reconstruction capacity. Moreover, the improved geometry of the DAAE latent space enables zero-shot text style transfer via simple latent vector arithmetic.[Our code will be publicly released after the review process.]



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The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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