Neural Manifold Ordinary Differential Equations

Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS)


To better conform to data geometry, recent deep generative modeling techniques adapt Euclidean constructions to non-Euclidean spaces. In this paper, we study normalizing flows on manifolds. Previous work has developed flow models for specific cases; however, these advancements hand craft layers on a manifold-by-manifold basis, restricting generality and inducing cumbersome design constraints. We overcome these issues by introducing Neural Manifold Ordinary Differential Equations, a manifold generalization of Neural ODEs, which enables the construction of Manifold Continuous Normalizing Flows (MCNFs). MCNFs require only local geometry (therefore generalizing to arbitrary manifolds) and compute probabilities with continuous change of variables (allowing for a simple and expressive flow construction). We find that leveraging continuous manifold dynamics produces a marked improvement for both density estimation and downstream tasks.

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