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Evolving Connectivity for Recurrent Spiking Neural Networks

Guan Wang · Yuhao Sun · Sijie Cheng · Sen Song

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #706


Recurrent spiking neural networks (RSNNs) hold great potential for advancing artificial general intelligence, as they draw inspiration from the biological nervous system and show promise in modeling complex dynamics.However, the widely-used surrogate gradient-based training methods for RSNNs are inherently inaccurate and unfriendly to neuromorphic hardware.To address these limitations, we propose the evolving connectivity (EC) framework, an inference-only method for training RSNNs.The EC framework reformulates weight-tuning as a search into parameterized connection probability distributions, and employs Natural Evolution Strategies (NES) for optimizing these distributions.Our EC framework circumvents the need for gradients and features hardware-friendly characteristics, including sparse boolean connections and high scalability.We evaluate EC on a series of standard robotic locomotion tasks, where it achieves comparable performance with deep neural networks and outperforms gradient-trained RSNNs, even solving the complex 17-DoF humanoid task.Additionally, the EC framework demonstrates a two to three fold speedup in efficiency compared to directly evolving parameters.By providing a performant and hardware-friendly alternative, the EC framework lays the groundwork for further energy-efficient applications of RSNNs and advances the development of neuromorphic devices.Our code is publicly available at

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