Keywords: [ Deep Learning - Generative Models and Autoencoders ] [ Unsupervised Learning ] [ Deep Generative Models ]
We investigate the ability of popular flow models to capture tail-properties of a target density by studying the increasing triangular maps used in these flow methods acting on a tractable source density. We show that the density quantile functions of the source and target density provide a precise characterization of the slope of transformation required to capture tails in a target density. We further show that any Lipschitz-continuous transport map acting on a source density will result in a density with similar tail properties as the source, highlighting the trade-off between the importance of choosing a complex source density and a sufficiently expressive transformation to capture desirable properties of a target density. Subsequently, we illustrate that flow models like Real-NVP, MAF, and Glow as implemented lack the ability to capture a distribution with non-Gaussian tails. We circumvent this problem by proposing tail-adaptive flows consisting of a source distribution that can be learned simultaneously with the triangular map to capture tail-properties of a target density. We perform several synthetic and real-world experiments to complement our theoretical findings.