Event-Driven Random Back-Propagation: Enabling Neuromorphic Deep Learning Machines

  • Authors:
    Emre Neftci (UC/Irvine), Charles Augustine (Intel), Somnath Paul (Intel), Georgios Detorakis (UC/Irvine)
    Publication ID:
    Publication Type:
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    2698.003 (University of Notre Dame)


An ongoing challenge in neuromorphic computing is to devise general and computationally efficient models of inference and learning which are compatible with the spatial and temporal constraints of the brain. One increasingly popular and successful approach is to take inspiration from inference and learning algorithms used in deep neural networks. However, the workhorse of deep learning, the gradient descent Gradient Back Propagation (BP) rule, often relies on the immediate availability of network-wide information stored with high-precision memory during learning, and precise operations that are difficult to realize in neuromorphic hardware. Remarkably, recent work showed that exact back-propagated gradients are not essential for learning deep representations. Building on these results, we demonstrate an event-driven random BP (eRBP) rule that uses an error-modulated synaptic plasticity for learning deep representations. Using a two-compartment Leaky Integrate & Fire (I&F) neuron, the rule requires only one addition and two comparisons for each synaptic weight, making it very suitable for implementation in digital or mixed-signal neuromorphic hardware. Our results show that using eRBP, deep representations are rapidly learned, achieving classification accuracies on permutation invariant datasets comparable to those obtained in artificial neural network simulations on GPUs, while being robust to neural and synaptic state quantizations during learning.

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