Temporally Efficient Deep Learning with Spikes

Peter O'Connor, Efstratios Gavves, Max Welling

The vast majority of natural sensory data is temporally redundant. Video frames or audio samples which are sampled at nearby points in time tend to have similar values. Typically, deep learning algorithms take no advantage of this redundancy to reduce computation. This can be an obscene waste of energy. We present a variant on backpropagation for neural networks in which computation scales with the rate of change of the data - not the rate at which we process the data. We do this by having neurons communicate a combination of their state, and their temporal change in state. Intriguingly, this simple communication rule give rise to units that resemble biologically-inspired leaky integrate-and-fire neurons, and to a weight-update rule that is equivalent to a form of Spike-Timing Dependent Plasticity (STDP), a synaptic learning rule observed in the brain. We demonstrate that on MNIST and a temporal variant of MNIST, our algorithm performs about as well as a Multilayer Perceptron trained with backpropagation, despite only communicating discrete values between layers.

Knowledge Graph

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