In this paper, we explore the inclusion of latent random variables into the dynamic hidden state of a recurrent neural network (RNN) by combining elements of the variational autoencoder. We argue that through the use of high-level latent random variables, the variational RNN (VRNN)1 can model the kind of variability observed in highly structured sequential data such as natural speech. We empirically evaluate the proposed model against related sequential models on four speech datasets and one handwriting dataset. Our results show the important roles that latent random variables can play in the RNN dynamic hidden state.
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