Google Research

Top-k Training of GANs: Improving GAN Performance by Throwing Away Bad Samples

  • Samarth Sinha
  • Zhengli Zhao
  • Anirudh Goyal
  • Colin Raffel
  • Augustus Odena
Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (2020)


We introduce a simple (one line of code) modification to the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) training algorithm that materially improves results with no increase in computational cost: When updating the generator parameters, we simply zero out the gradient contributions from the elements of the batch that the critic scores as ‘least realistic’. Through experiments on many different GAN variants, we show that this ‘top-k update’ procedure is a generally applicable improvement. In order to understand the nature of the improvement, we conduct extensive analysis on a simple mixture-of-Gaussians dataset and discover several interesting phenomena. Among these is that, when gradient updates are computed using the worst-scoring batch elements, samples can actually be pushed further away from their nearest mode. We also apply our method to recent GAN variants and improve state-of-the-art FID for conditional generation from 9.21 to 8.57 on CIFAR-10.

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