Disentangling factors of variation in deep representations using adversarial training

Michael Mathieu, Junbo Zhao, Pablo Sprechmann, Aditya Ramesh, Yann Le Cun

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


We introduce a conditional generative model for learning to disentangle the hidden factors of variation within a set of labeled observations, and separate them into complementary codes. One code summarizes the specified factors of variation associated with the labels. The other summarizes the remaining unspecified variability. During training, the only available source of supervision comes from our ability to distinguish among different observations belonging to the same class. Examples of such observations include images of a set of labeled objects captured at different viewpoints, or recordings of set of speakers dictating multiple phrases. In both instances, the intra-class diversity is the source of the unspecified factors of variation: each object is observed at multiple viewpoints, and each speaker dictates multiple phrases. Learning to disentangle the specified factors from the unspecified ones becomes easier when strong supervision is possible. Suppose that during training, we have access to pairs of images, where each pair shows two different objects captured from the same viewpoint. This source of alignment allows us to solve our task using existing methods. However, labels for the unspecified factors are usually unavailable in realistic scenarios where data acquisition is not strictly controlled. We address the problem of disentaglement in this more general setting by combining deep convolutional autoencoders with a form of adversarial training. Both factors of variation are implicitly captured in the organization of the learned embedding space, and can be used for solving single-image analogies. Experimental results on synthetic and real datasets show that the proposed method is capable of generalizing to unseen classes and intra-class variabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5047-5055
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
StatePublished - 2016
Event30th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NIPS 2016 - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: Dec 5 2016Dec 10 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing


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