What is Synthetic Data Generation

What is Synthetic Data Generation?

Feb 27, 2023

Synthetic data generation is the process of creating artificial datasets that mimic real-world data. It’s an increasingly popular method in data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence for a variety of reasons. One of its main advantages is that it provides a way to overcome real-world data limitations such as privacy concerns, data scarcity, and data bias. Additionally, we augment existing datasets with synthetic data to enable more comprehensive training of models and algorithms.


In this article, we will introduce the concept of synthetic data, how we generate it, its types, techniques, and tools. In the next article, we will show a few examples of generating the data using named entities extracted from real text. This series will provide you the knowledge required to help in producing synthesized dataset for solving data-related issues..

What is Synthetic Data Generation

Synthetic data is information that is artificially generated and not created by real events. It is typically created using algorithms and can be used to validate mathematical models or train machine learning models.

It is used in many fields as an information filter that desensitizes certain aspects of the data. Many sensitive applications theoretically have datasets, but they cannot be made public. It avoids the privacy issues that arise from using genuine consumer information without permission or compensation.

Why should we use Synthetic Data Generation

Synthetic data can be beneficial to companies for privacy reasons, reducing product testing turnaround time, training machine learning algorithms, and more. Most privacy laws restrict companies from handling sensitive data.

Leakage or sharing of a customer’s personal data can lead to costly litigation and also affect the image of the brand. Minimizing privacy concerns is therefore the main reason companies invest in synthetic data generation methods.

For completely new products, data is generally not available. Additionally, human annotating data is a costly and time consuming process. This can be avoided if companies instead invest in synthetic data that can be generated quickly to help build reliable machine learning models.

Synthetic Data Generation with Deep Learning

There are several deep learning techniques that can be used for synthetic data generation. Two of the most popular methods are generative adversarial networks (GANs) and variational autoencoders (VAEs)

GAN (Generative Adversarial Networks)

GAN is a type of neural network architecture that is commonly used for synthetic data generation.

The GAN architecture consists of two neural networks: a generator and a discriminator. The generator is responsible for creating synthetic data, while the discriminator is responsible for distinguishing between real and synthetic data. The two networks are trained in a competitive process, with the generator attempting to create synthetic data that can fool the discriminator, and the discriminator attempting to accurately identify whether the data is real or synthetic.


During training, the generator receives random noise as input and generates synthetic data that is intended to look similar to the real data. The discriminator is then fed both real and synthetic data and learns to classify them as either real or synthetic. The two networks are trained iteratively, with the generator attempting to improve its ability to generate realistic data and the discriminator attempting to improve its ability to distinguish real from synthetic data.


As the training progresses, the generator improves its ability to generate realistic data that matches the distribution of the real data. The discriminator also becomes better at distinguishing between real and synthetic data, and the two networks eventually converge to a point where the generator can create synthetic data that is difficult for the discriminator to distinguish from real data.

What is Synthetic Data Generation

VAEs (Variational Autoencoders)

Variational autoencoders (VAEs) are a type of neural network architecture that can be used for generative modeling and synthetic data generation. VAEs are a type of autoencoder, which is a type of neural network that is commonly used for unsupervised learning tasks.


The basic idea behind VAEs is to learn a low-dimensional representation of high-dimensional data. VAEs consist of two main components: an encoder and a decoder. The encoder network maps the high-dimensional input data into a low-dimensional latent space, while the decoder network maps the low-dimensional representation back into the high-dimensional space.


During training, the VAE is optimized to minimize the difference between the input data and the output data, while also encouraging the latent representation to follow a specific prior distribution, such as a Gaussian distribution. This is achieved by adding a regularization term to the loss function that encourages the learned latent space to follow the prior distribution.


Once the VAE has been trained, it can be used to generate new data points by sampling points from the prior distribution and passing them through the decoder network. The resulting output is a synthetic data point that resembles the real data but is different in some way.


One of the advantages of VAEs is that they can be used for continuous data, such as images, audio, or video. Additionally, VAEs can be used for data compression and feature learning, in addition to synthetic data generation.

What is Synthetic Data Generation

Synthetic Data Generation for NLP

Synthetic data generation and text generation are two related tasks in natural language processing. Synthetic data generation is a useful technique for generating diverse and high-quality data for training NLP models.


Text generation uses machine learning algorithms to generate consistent, meaningful, human-like text, from short sentences to long paragraphs to entire articles and stories. These models require large amounts of high-quality text data to learn the underlying patterns and structures of language. However, collecting and annotating such data is a difficult and time-consuming task. This is where synthetic data generation comes into play.


Synthetic data generation uses machine learning algorithms to create new data that is similar in structure and content to existing data. For text generation, this involves training a model on your dataset to learn underlying patterns and generating new text based on those patterns. The generated text is synthetic. meaning it was not directly observed or collected from the real world, but generated by a model based on our understanding of the original dataset.


By using synthetic data to train text generation models, researchers and developers can create more diverse and realistic language models that can generate high-quality text for a variety of applications. This approach helps overcome data scarcity challenges and enables the development of text generation models that can generate large amounts of high-quality text.


In conclusion, synthetic data generation has become an increasingly important tool for data scientists and researchers. By leveraging advanced machine learning algorithms and generative models, synthetic data can be generated in a way that preserves the statistical properties of real-world data while ensuring privacy and confidentiality.


Although there are some challenges associated with synthetic data generation, including the difficulty of modeling complex data distributions, the potential benefits are clear. Synthetic data can be used for a wide range of applications, from training and testing machine learning models to conducting simulations and experiments. As the field of synthetic data generation continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative techniques and tools emerging, making it an exciting area for future research and development.


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