Updates of Equilibrium Prop Match Gradients of Backprop Through Time in an RNN with Static Input
Maxence Ernoult · Julie Grollier · Damien Querlioz · Yoshua Bengio · Benjamin Scellier

Tue Dec 10th 10:45 AM -- 12:45 PM @ East Exhibition Hall B + C #106

Equilibrium Propagation (EP) is a biologically inspired learning algorithm for convergent recurrent neural networks, i.e. RNNs that are fed by a static input x and settle to a steady state. Training convergent RNNs consists in adjusting the weights until the steady state of output neurons coincides with a target y. Convergent RNNs can also be trained with the more conventional Backpropagation Through Time (BPTT) algorithm. In its original formulation EP was described in the case of real-time neuronal dynamics, which is computationally costly. In this work, we introduce a discrete-time version of EP with simplified equations and with reduced simulation time, bringing EP closer to practical machine learning tasks. We first prove theoretically, as well as numerically that the neural and weight updates of EP, computed by forward-time dynamics, are step-by-step equal to the ones obtained by BPTT, with gradients computed backward in time. The equality is strict when the transition function of the dynamics derives from a primitive function and the steady state is maintained long enough. We then show for more standard discrete-time neural network dynamics that the same property is approximately respected and we subsequently demonstrate training with EP with equivalent performance to BPTT. In particular, we define the first convolutional architecture trained with EP achieving ∼ 1% test error on MNIST, which is the lowest error reported with EP. These results can guide the development of deep neural networks trained with EP.

Author Information

Maxence Ernoult (Université Paris Sud)
Julie Grollier (Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales)
Damien Querlioz (Univ Paris-Sud)
Yoshua Bengio (Mila)

Yoshua Bengio is Full Professor in the computer science and operations research department at U. Montreal, scientific director and founder of Mila and of IVADO, Turing Award 2018 recipient, Canada Research Chair in Statistical Learning Algorithms, as well as a Canada AI CIFAR Chair. He pioneered deep learning and has been getting the most citations per day in 2018 among all computer scientists, worldwide. He is an officer of the Order of Canada, member of the Royal Society of Canada, was awarded the Killam Prize, the Marie-Victorin Prize and the Radio-Canada Scientist of the year in 2017, and he is a member of the NeurIPS advisory board and co-founder of the ICLR conference, as well as program director of the CIFAR program on Learning in Machines and Brains. His goal is to contribute to uncover the principles giving rise to intelligence through learning, as well as favour the development of AI for the benefit of all.

Benjamin Scellier (Mila, University of Montreal)

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