Weakly-Supervised Disentanglement Without Compromises

Part of Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning 1 pre-proceedings (ICML 2020)

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Francesco Locatello, Ben Poole, Gunnar Ratsch, Bernhard Schölkopf, Olivier Bachem, Michael Tschannen


<p>Intelligent agents should be able to learn useful representations by observing changes in their environment. We model such observations as pairs of non-i.i.d. images sharing at least one of the underlying factors of variation. First, we theoretically show that only knowing how many factors have changed, but not which ones, is sufficient to learn disentangled representations. Second, we provide practical algorithms that learn disentangled representations from pairs of images without requiring annotation of groups, individual factors, or the number of factors that have changed. Third, we perform a large-scale empirical study and show that such pairs of observations are sufficient to reliably learn disentangled representations on several benchmark data sets. Finally, we evaluate our learned representations and find that they are simultaneously useful on a diverse suite of tasks, including generalization under covariate shifts, fairness, and abstract reasoning. Overall, our results demonstrate that weak supervision enables learning of useful disentangled representations in realistic scenarios.</p>