Do Neural Optimal Transport Solvers Work? A Continuous Wasserstein-2 Benchmark

Alexander Korotin, Lingxiao Li, Aude Genevay, Justin Solomon, Alexander Filippov, Evgeny Burnaev

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 - 35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
EditorsMarc'Aurelio Ranzato, Alina Beygelzimer, Yann Dauphin, Percy S. Liang, Jenn Wortman Vaughan
PublisherNeural information processing systems foundation
Pages14593-14605
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781713845393
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 6 Dec 202114 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
Volume18
ISSN (Print)1049-5258

Conference

Conference35th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NeurIPS 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period6/12/2114/12/21

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