Plug & Play Generative Networks: Conditional Iterative Generation of Images in Latent Space


    Generating high-resolution, photo-realistic images has been a long-standing goal in machine learning. Recently, Nguyen et al. (2016) showed one interesting way to synthesize novel images by performing gradient ascent in the latent space of a generator network to maximize the activations of one or multiple neurons in a separate classifier network. In this paper we extend this method by introducing an additional prior on the latent code, improving both sample quality and sample diversity, leading to a state-of-the-art generative model that produces high quality images at higher resolutions (227×227) than previous generative models, and does so for all 1000 ImageNet categories. In addition, we provide a unified probabilistic interpretation of related activation maximization methods and call the general class of models “Plug and Play Generative Networks”. PPGNs are composed of 1) a generator network G that is capable of drawing a wide range of image types and 2) a replaceable “condition” network C that tells the generator what to draw. We demonstrate the generation of images conditioned on a class (when C is an ImageNet or MIT Places classification network) and also conditioned on a caption (when C is an image captioning network). Our method also improves the state of the art of Multifaceted Feature Visualization, which generates the set of synthetic inputs that activate a neuron in order to better understand how deep neural networks operate. Finally, we show that our model performs reasonably well at the task of image inpainting. While image models are used in this paper, the approach is modality-agnostic and can be applied to many types of data.


    Uber AI


    Anh Nguyen, Jason Yosinski, Yoshua Bengio, Alexey Dosovitskiy, Jeff Clune


    CVPR 2017

    Full Paper

    ‘Plug & Play Generative Networks: Conditional Iterative Generation of Images in Latent Space’ (PDF)



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    Jason Yosinski
    Jason Yosinski is a machine learning researcher and founding member of Uber AI Labs, where he uses neural networks to build more capable and more understandable AI.
    Jeff Clune
    Jeff is on leave from the University of Wyoming, where he is the Loy and Edith Harris Associate Professor in Computer Science and directs the Evolving AI Lab ( He researches robotics and creating artificial intelligence in neural networks, either via deep learning or evolutionary algorithms. In the last three years a robotics paper he coauthored was on the cover of Nature, he won an NSF CAREER award, he received the Distinguished Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Artificial Life, and deep learning papers he coauthored were awarded oral presentations at NIPS, CVPR, ICLR, and an ICML workshop.