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The Schrödinger Bridge between Gaussian Measures has a Closed Form

Charlotte Bunne · Ya-Ping Hsieh · Marco Cuturi · Andreas Krause

Auditorium 1 Foyer 103

Abstract: The static optimal transport $(\mathrm{OT})$ problem between Gaussians seeks to recover an optimal map, or more generally a coupling, to morph a Gaussian into another. It has been well studied and applied to a wide variety of tasks. Here we focus on the dynamic formulation of OT, also known as the Schrödinger bridge (SB) problem, which has recently seen a surge of interest in machine learning due to its connections with diffusion-based generative models. In contrast to the static setting, much less is known about the dynamic setting, even for Gaussian distributions. In this paper, we provide closed-form expressions for SBs between Gaussian measures. In contrast to the static Gaussian OT problem, which can be simply reduced to studying convex programs, our framework for solving SBs requires significantly more involved tools such as Riemannian geometry and generator theory. Notably, we establish that the solutions of SBs between Gaussian measures are themselves Gaussian processes with explicit mean and covariance kernels, and thus are readily amenable for many downstream applications such as generative modeling or interpolation. To demonstrate the utility, we devise a new method for modeling the evolution of single-cell genomics data and report significantly improved numerical stability compared to existing SB-based approaches.

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