Inherent Weight Normalization in Stochastic Neural Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Georgios Detorakis, Sourav Dutta, Abhishek Khanna, Matthew Jerry, Suman Datta, Emre Neftci


Multiplicative stochasticity such as Dropout improves the robustness and gener- alizability deep neural networks. Here, we further demonstrate that always-on multiplicative stochasticity combined with simple threshold neurons provide a suf- ficient substrate for deep learning machines. We call such models Neural Sampling Machines (NSM). We find that the probability of activation of the NSM exhibits a self-normalizing property that mirrors Weight Normalization, a previously studied mechanism that fulfills many of the features of Batch Normalization in an online fashion. The normalization of activities during training speeds up convergence by preventing internal covariate shift caused by changes in the distribution of inputs. The always-on stochasticity of the NSM confers the following advantages: the network is identical in the inference and learning phases, making the NSM a suitable substrate for continual learning, it can exploit stochasticity inherent to a physical substrate such as analog non-volatile memories for in memory computing, and it is suitable for Monte Carlo sampling, while requiring almost exclusively addition and comparison operations. We demonstrate NSMs on standard classification benchmarks (MNIST and CIFAR) and event-based classification benchmarks (N-MNIST and DVS Gestures). Our results show that NSMs perform comparably or better than conventional artificial neural networks with the same architecture.