Density Modeling of Images using a Generalized Normalization Transformation

author: Johannes Ballé, Center for Neural Science, New York University (NYU)
published: June 15, 2016,   recorded: May 2016,   views: 4145

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We introduce a parametric nonlinear transformation that is well-suited for Gaussianizing data from natural images. The data are linearly transformed, and each component is then normalized by a pooled activity measure, computed by exponentiating a weighted sum of rectified and exponentiated components and a constant. We optimize the parameters of the full transformation (linear transform, exponents, weights, constant) over a database of natural images, directly minimizing the negentropy of the responses. The optimized transformation substantially Gaussianizes the data, achieving a significantly smaller mutual information between transformed components than alternative methods including ICA and radial Gaussianization. The transformation is differentiable and can be efficiently inverted, and thus induces a density model on images. We show that samples of this model are visually similar to samples of natural image patches. We demonstrate the use of the model as a prior probability density that can be used to remove additive noise. Finally, we show that the transformation can be cascaded, with each layer optimized using the same Gaussianization objective, thus offering an unsupervised method of optimizing a deep network architecture.

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