Neural Arithmetic Units


Sep 25, 2019 ICLR 2020 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Neural networks can approximate complex functions, but they struggle to perform exact arithmetic operations over real numbers. The lack of inductive bias for arithmetic operations leaves neural networks without the underlying logic needed to extrapolate on tasks such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication. We present two new neural network components: the Neural Addition Unit (NAU), which can learn to add and subtract; and Neural Multiplication Unit (NMU) that can multiply subsets of a vector. The NMU is to our knowledge the first arithmetic neural network component that can learn multiplication of a vector with a large hidden size. The two new components draw inspiration from a theoretical analysis of recent arithmetic components. We find that careful initialization, restricting parameter space, and regularizing for sparsity is important when optimizing the NAU and NMU. Our results, compared with previous attempts, show that the NAU and NMU converges more consistently, have fewer parameters, learns faster, does not diverge with large hidden sizes, obtains sparse and meaningful weights, and can extrapolate to negative and small numbers.
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