We develop a probabilistic model of human memory performance in free recall experiments. In these experiments, a subject first studies a list of words and then tries to recall them. To model these data, we draw on both previous psychological research and statistical topic models of text documents. We assume that memories are formed by assimilating the semantic meaning of studied words (represented as a distribution over topics) into a slowly changing latent context (represented in the same space). During recall, this context is reinstated and used as a cue for retrieving studied words. By conceptualizing memory retrieval as a dynamic latent variable model, we are able to use Bayesian inference to represent uncertainty and reason about the cognitive processes underlying memory. We present a particle filter algorithm for performing approximate posterior inference, and evaluate our model on the prediction of recalled words in experimental data. By specifying the model hierarchically, we are also able to capture inter-subject variability.
Deep neural networks have excelled on a wide range of problems, from vision to language and game playing. Neural networks very gradually incorporate information into weights as they process data, requiring very low learning rates. If the training distribution shifts, the network is slow to adapt, and when it does adapt, it typically performs badly on the training distribution before the shift. Our method, Memory-based Parameter Adaptation, stores examples in memory and then uses a context-based lookup to directly modify the weights of a neural network. Much higher learning rates can be used for this local adaptation, reneging the need for many iterations over similar data before good predictions can be made. As our method is memory-based, it alleviates several shortcomings of neural networks, such as catastrophic forgetting, fast, stable acquisition of new knowledge, learning with an imbalanced class labels, and fast learning during evaluation. We demonstrate this on a range of supervised tasks: large-scale image classification and language modelling.
State of the art deep reinforcement learning algorithms take many millions of interactions to attain human-level performance. Humans, on the other hand, can very quickly exploit highly rewarding nuances of an environment upon first discovery. In the brain, such rapid learning is thought to depend on the hippocampus and its capacity for episodic memory. Here we investigate whether a simple model of hippocampal episodic control can learn to solve difficult sequential decision-making tasks. We demonstrate that it not only attains a highly rewarding strategy significantly faster than state-of-the-art deep reinforcement learning algorithms, but also achieves a higher overall reward on some of the more challenging domains.
One major obstacle towards AI is the poor ability of models to solve new problems quicker, and without forgetting previously acquired knowledge. To better understand this issue, we study the problem of continual learning, where the model observes, once and one by one, examples concerning a sequence of tasks. First, we propose a set of metrics to evaluate models learning over a continuum of data. These metrics characterize models not only by their test accuracy, but also in terms of their ability to transfer knowledge across tasks. Second, we propose a model for continual learning, called Gradient Episodic Memory (GEM) that alleviates forgetting, while allowing beneficial transfer of knowledge to previous tasks. Our experiments on variants of the MNIST and CIFAR-100 datasets demonstrate the strong performance of GEM when compared to the state-of-the-art.