Toward spike-based stochastic neural computing

Yang Qi, Zhichao Zhu, Yiming Wei, Lu Cao, Zhigang Wang, Wenlian Lu, Jianfeng Feng

Inspired by the highly irregular spiking activity of cortical neurons, stochastic neural computing is an attractive theory for explaining the operating principles of the brain and the ability to represent uncertainty by intelligent agents. However, computing and learning with high-dimensional joint probability distributions of spiking neural activity across large populations of neurons present as a major challenge. To overcome this, we develop a novel moment embedding approach to enable gradient-based learning in spiking neural networks accounting for the propagation of correlated neural variability. We show under the supervised learning setting a spiking neural network trained this way is able to learn the task while simultaneously minimizing uncertainty, and further demonstrate its application to neuromorphic hardware. Built on the principle of spike-based stochastic neural computing, the proposed method opens up new opportunities for developing machine intelligence capable of computing uncertainty and for designing unconventional computing architectures.

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