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Wasserstein gradient flows provide a powerful means of understanding and solving many diffusion equations. Specifically, Fokker-Planck equations, which model the diffusion of probability measures, can be understood as gradient descent over entropy functionals in Wasserstein space. This equivalence, introduced by Jordan, Kinderlehrer and Otto, inspired the so-called JKO scheme to approximate these diffusion processes via an implicit discretization of the gradient flow in Wasserstein space. Solving the optimization problem associated with each JKO step, however, presents serious computational challenges. We introduce a scalable method to approximate Wasserstein gradient flows, targeted to machine learning applications. Our approach relies on input-convex neural networks (ICNNs) to discretize the JKO steps, which can be optimized by stochastic gradient descent. Contrarily to previous work, our method does not require domain discretization or particle simulation. As a result, we can sample from the measure at each time step of the diffusion and compute its probability density. We demonstrate the performance of our algorithm by computing diffusions following the Fokker-Planck equation and apply it to unnormalized density sampling as well as nonlinear filtering.more » « less
Despite the recent popularity of neural network-based solvers for optimal transport (OT), there is no standard quantitative way to evaluate their performance. In this paper, we address this issue for quadratic-cost transport---specifically, computation of the Wasserstein-2 distance, a commonly-used formulation of optimal transport in machine learning. To overcome the challenge of computing ground truth transport maps between continuous measures needed to assess these solvers, we use input-convex neural networks (ICNN) to construct pairs of measures whose ground truth OT maps can be obtained analytically. This strategy yields pairs of continuous benchmark measures in high-dimensional spaces such as spaces of images. We thoroughly evaluate existing optimal transport solvers using these benchmark measures. Even though these solvers perform well in downstream tasks, many do not faithfully recover optimal transport maps. To investigate the cause of this discrepancy, we further test the solvers in a setting of image generation. Our study reveals crucial limitations of existing solvers and shows that increased OT accuracy does not necessarily correlate to better results downstream.more » « less
Optimal transport (OT) is a popular tool in machine learning to compare probability measures geometrically, but it comes with substantial computational burden. Linear programming algorithms for computing OT distances scale cubically in the size of the input, making OT impractical in the large-sample regime. We introduce a practical algorithm, which relies on a quantization step, to estimate OT distances between measures given cheap sample access. We also provide a variant of our algorithm to improve the performance of approximate solvers, focusing on those for entropy-regularized transport. We give theoretical guarantees on the benefits of this quantization step and display experiments showing that it behaves well in practice, providing a practical approximation algorithm that can be used as a drop-in replacement for existing OT estimators.more » « less