SciPost Submission Page

How to GAN LHC Events

by Anja Butter, Tilman Plehn, Ramon Winterhalder

Submission summary

As Contributors: Tilman Plehn · Ramon Winterhalder
Arxiv Link:
Date submitted: 2019-07-23
Submitted by: Winterhalder, Ramon
Submitted to: SciPost Physics
Domain(s): Theoretical
Subject area: High-Energy Physics - Phenomenology


Event generation for the LHC can be supplemented by generative adversarial networks, which simply clone events and avoid highly inefficient event unweighting. For top pair production we show how such a network describes intermediate on-shell particles, phase space boundaries, and tails of distributions. It can be extended in a straightforward manner to include for instance off-shell contributions, higher orders, or approximate detector effects.

Current status:
Editor-in-charge assigned

Reports on this Submission

Anonymous Report 2 on 2019-8-16 Invited Report


1- It is important for the field to study new approaches to extend the simulation of events using deep generative models
2- This paper presents an interesting approach to model LHC events with GANs with the novel inclusion of a density measure to compare distributions (maximum mean discrepancy, MMD) to the loss function
3- Section 2 is a very readable introduction into Monte Carlo and phase space generation


1- At present it is not clear if the claim to model the “full phase space of top events” can be justified
2- The main shortcomings of the paper are a missing discussion of overtraining (reproducing events similar to the training data) and a possible holes in the generated parameter space.
3- It is not clear how the performance of this approach compares to other approaches to generate LHC events with deep generative models


This paper presents an interesting approach to model LHC events with GANs with the novel inclusion of a density measure to compare distributions (maximum mean discrepancy, MMD) to the loss function. The authors claim that they show that it is possible „to GAN the full phase space structure of a realistic LHC process, namely top pair production all the way down to the kinematics of the six top decay jets. „ At present it is not clear if this claim (especially “full phase space”) can be justified. It is found that a traditional GAN is non-optimal to generate correct event distributions and a density measure to compare distributions (maximum mean discrepancy, MMD) is added to the loss function. A detailed discussion of the ability of GANs (without MMD) to model such processes in the full phase space is currently missing and should be added.
The main shortcomings of the paper are a missing discussion of overtraining and a discussion of possible holes in the generated parameter space. This is needed to be able to understand the applicability of GANs for MC integration and to be able to compare different approaches. In the GAN approach the batch size dependence might be critical and the full density might only be learned if the batch size is very large. A discussion of the batch size dependence of the approach is missing in the paper and should be added. Finally, a discussion (or comparison) to other attempts in the literature is incomplete and would be helpful to understand the advantages of the setup proposed in this paper. A measure should be used to be able to compare different approaches (currently proposed on arxiv) in terms of learning the correct density and in terms of avoiding holes in the sampled parameter space. The work should be published when also a better justification and discussion of the PROs and CONs of this approach (also compared to others) can be added to a revised version.

Requested changes

- Title: The novelty of the paper is the MMD + GAN approach, this should be represented in the title (there will be various GAN papers on LHC events). Also the MMD approach could also be added to other generative models.
- Abstract: “which simply clone events and avoid highly inefficient event un-weighting.“
GANs do more than simply clone the training data and if this would be the case GANs cannot be used to help MC generation (one could simply use multiple times the same event). Maybe the editors mean something else with this sentence?
- Introduction: It is not clear how this paper is related to other work, e.g. reference 9 and 10, especially regarding the sentence „However, up to now high-dimensional phase space coverage including realistic multi-particle matrix elements has not been in reach of a GAN setup.” It should be explained why this is not solved already e.g. in reference 10. This paper also studies the same process (toptop production and decay to 6 objects) as reference 9. The difference of this approach compared to Ref 9 should also be discussed, i.e. the implementation of MMD in the loss function of the GAN (GAN-MMD), whereas reference 9 proposes to use a so-called density buffer for VAEs for density estimation.
- „Including higher- order corrections is obviously possible and should lead to ever higher gains in computing time. „ This is trivial if the training data includes higher order corrections, but otherwise (e.g. in terms of extrapolation or correction to leading order events) not shown and a highly difficult task. This is not clear to the reader.
- “instead clone reconstructed LHC events and use them to enhance analyses or to study features of the hard process.„ It is misleading (or at least not clearly defined) to say that a GAN “clones” events. A clone is just an identical copy. An objective of a generative model is not only to learn the ability to generate “clones”, but also “new” events similar to the training data by interpolation, see also the later comments on overtraining and “holes” in the parameter space.
Section 2:
- “ …us with 18 degrees of freedom „ This means that only the 3 vector is learned by the generative model and not the particle type or the particle mass. It is not clear why /how the particle type and mass can be assumed to be known if this is not a parameter of the problem ? A sentence should be added to clarify.
- Section 2.2: “induces a random distribution PG(x)….“ In the following the words distribution, event, batch etc. are used without definition, e.g. it is not clear to a reader if “x” is a 15-dimensional set of numbers representing an “event” or if it a 15-dimensional set of random input into the generator network and then P(x) is the “output” (i.e. the event or a batch ?). The correspondence between “distribution” and “batch” and “the total sample of random inputs x” , the output of the GAN etc. needs to be clearly defined.
- Furthermore, it is said that the “the discriminator network compares two data sets, the true distribution PT (x) and the generated distribution PG(x). „ In the loss function eq. 10 the discriminator compares the two probability distributions event by event x or as a batch. The description in the section is not clear, especially since MMD is not introduced yet.
- In the following the „regularized Jensen-Shannon GAN“ is used as defined in Ref. 14. This should be stated.
- VAEs… -> “latent modelling and the marginalization of unnecessary variables“. Finding the best variables (also using latent space modelling) is a very relevant problem for LHC and VAEs may have advantages due to naturally avoiding e.g. mode collapse problems of GANs or in terms of overtraining.
- Section 2.3 : In contrast to the number of parameters stated at the beginning of section 2 now the mass of intermediate particles are given to the network in addition. Could this be avoided if the 4-vector would be given as input and why was this not done ? The input data should explicitly be defined, e.g. in a Table.
- The paper combines GAN and MMD. Similar has been done before e.g. in Generative moment matching networks (GMMN, arxiv:1502.02761 and others). Citations should be added and previous work on MMD + GAN combination should be discussed in the paper.
- The authors should state training time, number of training data etc. It would also be good to provide a link to the code on github to be able to compare the results with other approaches.
- Page 9: flat distributions: Ref [9] claims that flat distributions with sharp physical bounds (like the phi angle) are very difficult to reproduce with GANs. To have the ability to compare the different approaches proposed so far it is necessary to see the e.g. phi distributions of the 6 objects and e.g. correlations like phi_bjet vs phi_lepton for a GAN (without MMD term in loss) and the MMD improved GAN (which might be able to solve the problem) ?
- Non-flat distributions: It should be noted (Figure 5) that also with MMD the correct distribution is not learned perfectly (the true distribution is much narrower). There are still large differences and a ratio plot would help to quantify the differences.
- The networks have a large complexity and overtraining is not discussed in the paper, i.e. how much are the produced events copies of the training data. A distribution similar to ref. 9 might be helpful (phi_1 vs phi_2) to see possible holes in the generated phase space. Figure 7 is interesting in this respect and here a slice with 100 +-10 GeV is plotted. To see holes in the phase space it would be interesting to see the distribution for much smaller slices (e.g. +- 1 or +- 0.01 GeV). This plot should be compared to the training data.

Page 7: formulation : „If the resonance and with it the kernel width „

  • validity: good
  • significance: high
  • originality: good
  • clarity: good
  • formatting: good
  • grammar: good

Anonymous Report 1 on 2019-8-3 Invited Report


1- Provides an interesting solution to generative modeling with localized features.


1- Missing references to related papers.
2- Does not demonstrate that this method is learning genuinely new examples
3- Many of the claims in the conclusions are not substantiated with evidence in the body (e.g. "limited only by the statistics of the training sample" and "through a pre-defined event weight this is obviously possible")


This study is a useful addition to the growing GANs for HEP literature in that it addresses the case of sharp features in phase space. There are a few points that I think need to be addressed before I could recommend the manuscript for publication - see the "Weaknesses" and "Requested changes".

Requested changes

1- 1903.02433 is a critical missing reference. Please also add a brief statement about how your paper is different than this one, which claims to do something similar to what you have done.
2- [2-5] Perhaps it would be nice to also cite ATL-SOFT-PUB-2018-001.
3- [6] Perhaps it would be nice to cite 1701.05927 (which uses a GAN), 1807.03685, and 1804.09720, which all are deep neural network approaches to generating a parton shower.
4- Can you please demonstrate that your GAN is really able to generate statistically independent examples? If you really claim that it gets the full distribution correct, please show that it can model the tails as well as the bulk. You could maybe do this with bootstrapping to show that the statistical power of a GAN dataset that is 10x bigger than the training one is really 10x the one of the original dataset. My guess is that this will be true for the bulk, but not for the tails (in which case, perhaps you could modify your claims a bit).
5- Can you please substantiate the claims you make in the conclusions? (see above).
6- I did not fully understand the purpose of the lower panels in the bottom plots of Fig. 4. If the training stat. uncertainty is 100% in the tail, how can the GAN be within 20% of the true answer?

  • validity: high
  • significance: good
  • originality: good
  • clarity: good
  • formatting: excellent
  • grammar: good

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