Ganguli, Surya, Sompolinsky, Haim

Recent proposals suggest that large, generic neuronal networks could store memory traces of past input sequences in their instantaneous state. Such a proposal raises important theoretical questions about the duration of these memory traces and their dependence on network size, connectivity and signal statistics. Prior work, in the case of gaussian input sequences and linear neuronal networks, shows that the duration of memory traces in a network cannot exceed the number of neurons (in units of the neuronal time constant), and that no network can out-perform an equivalent feedforward network. However a more ethologically relevant scenario is that of sparse input sequences. In this scenario, we show how linear neural networks can essentially perform compressed sensing (CS) of past inputs, thereby attaining a memory capacity that {\it exceeds} the number of neurons. This enhanced capacity is achieved by a class of ``orthogonal recurrent networks and not by feedforward networks or generic recurrent networks. We exploit techniques from the statistical physics of disordered systems to analytically compute the decay of memory traces in such networks as a function of network size, signal sparsity and integration time. Alternately, viewed purely from the perspective of CS, this work introduces a new ensemble of measurement matrices derived from dynamical systems, and provides a theoretical analysis of their asymptotic performance."

Zhang, Jiong, Lei, Qi, Dhillon, Inderjit S.

Vanishing and exploding gradients are two of the main obstacles in training deep neural networks, especially in capturing long range dependencies in recurrent neural networks~(RNNs). In this paper, we present an efficient parametrization of the transition matrix of an RNN that allows us to stabilize the gradients that arise in its training. Specifically, we parameterize the transition matrix by its singular value decomposition(SVD), which allows us to explicitly track and control its singular values. We attain efficiency by using tools that are common in numerical linear algebra, namely Householder reflectors for representing the orthogonal matrices that arise in the SVD. By explicitly controlling the singular values, our proposed Spectral-RNN method allows us to easily solve the exploding gradient problem and we observe that it empirically solves the vanishing gradient issue to a large extent. We note that the SVD parameterization can be used for any rectangular weight matrix, hence it can be easily extended to any deep neural network, such as a multi-layer perceptron. Theoretically, we demonstrate that our parameterization does not lose any expressive power, and show how it controls generalization of RNN for the classification task. %, and show how it potentially makes the optimization process easier. Our extensive experimental results also demonstrate that the proposed framework converges faster, and has good generalization, especially in capturing long range dependencies, as shown on the synthetic addition and copy tasks, as well as on MNIST and Penn Tree Bank data sets.

Jing, Li, Gulcehre, Caglar, Peurifoy, John, Shen, Yichen, Tegmark, Max, Soljačić, Marin, Bengio, Yoshua

We present a novel recurrent neural network (RNN) based model that combines the remembering ability of unitary RNNs with the ability of gated RNNs to effectively forget redundant/irrelevant information in its memory. We achieve this by extending unitary RNNs with a gating mechanism. Our model is able to outperform LSTMs, GRUs and Unitary RNNs on several long-term dependency benchmark tasks. We empirically both show the orthogonal/unitary RNNs lack the ability to forget and also the ability of GORU to simultaneously remember long term dependencies while forgetting irrelevant information. This plays an important role in recurrent neural networks. We provide competitive results along with an analysis of our model on many natural sequential tasks including the bAbI Question Answering, TIMIT speech spectrum prediction, Penn TreeBank, and synthetic tasks that involve long-term dependencies such as algorithmic, parenthesis, denoising and copying tasks.

Reservoir Computing (RC) refers to a Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) framework, frequently used for sequence learning and time series prediction. The RC system consists of a random fixed-weight RNN (the input-hidden reservoir layer) and a classifier (the hidden-output readout layer). Here we focus on the sequence learning problem, and we explore a different approach to RC. More specifically, we remove the non-linear neural activation function, and we consider an orthogonal reservoir acting on normalized states on the unit hypersphere. Surprisingly, our numerical results show that the system's memory capacity exceeds the dimensionality of the reservoir, which is the upper bound for the typical RC approach based on Echo State Networks (ESNs). We also show how the proposed system can be applied to symmetric cryptography problems, and we include a numerical implementation.

Henaff, Mikael, Szlam, Arthur, LeCun, Yann

Although RNNs have been shown to be powerful tools for processing sequential data, finding architectures or optimization strategies that allow them to model very long term dependencies is still an active area of research. In this work, we carefully analyze two synthetic datasets originally outlined in (Hochreiter and Schmidhuber, 1997) which are used to evaluate the ability of RNNs to store information over many time steps. We explicitly construct RNN solutions to these problems, and using these constructions, illuminate both the problems themselves and the way in which RNNs store different types of information in their hidden states. These constructions furthermore explain the success of recent methods that specify unitary initializations or constraints on the transition matrices.