Localized random projections challenge benchmarks for bio-plausible deep learning

Bernd Illing, Wulfram Gerstner, Johanni Brea

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Similar to models of brain-like computation, artificial deep neural networks rely on distributed coding, parallel processing and plastic synaptic weights. Training deep neural networks with the error-backpropagation algorithm, however, is considered bio-implausible. An appealing alternative to training deep neural networks is to use one or a few hidden layers with fixed random weights or trained with an unsupervised, local learning rule and train a single readout layer with a supervised, local learning rule. We find that a network of leaky-integrate-andfire neurons with fixed random, localized receptive fields in the hidden layer and spike timing dependent plasticity to train the readout layer achieves 98.1% test accuracy on MNIST, which is close to the optimal result achievable with error-backpropagation in non-convolutional networks of rate neurons with one hidden layer. To support the design choices of the spiking network, we systematically compare the classification performance of rate networks with a single hidden layer, where the weights of this layer are either random and fixed, trained with unsupervised Principal Component Analysis or Sparse Coding, or trained with the backpropagation algorithm. This comparison revealed, first, that unsupervised learning does not lead to better performance than fixed random projections for large hidden layers on digit classification (MNIST) and object recognition (CIFAR10); second, networks with random projections and localized receptive fields perform significantly better than networks with all-to-all connectivity and almost reach the performance of networks trained with the backpropagation algorithm. The performance of these simple random projection networks is comparable to most current models of bio-plausible deep learning and thus provides an interesting benchmark for future approaches.
  • Keywords: deep learning, bio-plausibility, random projections, spiking networks, unsupervised learning, MNIST, spike timing dependent plasticity
  • TL;DR: Spiking networks using localized random projections and STDP challenge current MNIST benchmark models for bio-plausible deep learning
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