Helfrich, Kyle, Willmott, Devin, Ye, Qiang

Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) are designed to handle sequential data but suffer from vanishing or exploding gradients. Recent work on Unitary Recurrent Neural Networks (uRNNs) have been used to address this issue and in some cases, exceed the capabilities of Long Short-Term Memory networks (LSTMs). We propose a simpler and novel update scheme to maintain orthogonal recurrent weight matrices without using complex valued matrices. This is done by parametrizing with a skew-symmetric matrix using the Cayley transform. Such a parametrization is unable to represent matrices with negative one eigenvalues, but this limitation is overcome by scaling the recurrent weight matrix by a diagonal matrix consisting of ones and negative ones. The proposed training scheme involves a straightforward gradient calculation and update step. In several experiments, the proposed scaled Cayley orthogonal recurrent neural network (scoRNN) achieves superior results with fewer trainable parameters than other unitary RNNs.

Lezcano-Casado, Mario, Martínez-Rubio, David

We introduce a novel approach to perform first-order optimization with orthogonal and unitary constraints. This approach is based on a parametrization stemming from Lie group theory through the exponential map. The parametrization transforms the constrained optimization problem into an unconstrained one over a Euclidean space, for which common first-order optimization methods can be used. The theoretical results presented are general enough to cover the special orthogonal group, the unitary group and, in general, any connected compact Lie group. We discuss how this and other parametrizations can be computed efficiently through an implementation trick, making numerically complex parametrizations usable at a negligible runtime cost in neural networks. In particular, we apply our results to RNNs with orthogonal recurrent weights, yielding a new architecture called expRNN. We demonstrate how our method constitutes a more robust approach to optimization with orthogonal constraints, showing faster, accurate, and more stable convergence in several tasks designed to test RNNs.

Wisdom, Scott, Powers, Thomas, Hershey, John R., Roux, Jonathan Le, Atlas, Les

Recurrent neural networks are powerful models for processing sequential data, but they are generally plagued by vanishing and exploding gradient problems. Unitary recurrent neural networks (uRNNs), which use unitary recurrence matrices, have recently been proposed as a means to avoid these issues. However, in previous experiments, the recurrence matrices were restricted to be a product of parameterized unitary matrices, and an open question remains: when does such a parameterization fail to represent all unitary matrices, and how does this restricted representational capacity limit what can be learned? To address this question, we propose full-capacity uRNNs that optimize their recurrence matrix over all unitary matrices, leading to significantly improved performance over uRNNs that use a restricted-capacity recurrence matrix. Our contribution consists of two main components. First, we provide a theoretical argument to determine if a unitary parameterization has restricted capacity. Using this argument, we show that a recently proposed unitary parameterization has restricted capacity for hidden state dimension greater than 7. Second, we show how a complete, full-capacity unitary recurrence matrix can be optimized over the differentiable manifold of unitary matrices. The resulting multiplicative gradient step is very simple and does not require gradient clipping or learning rate adaptation. We confirm the utility of our claims by empirically evaluating our new full-capacity uRNNs on both synthetic and natural data, achieving superior performance compared to both LSTMs and the original restricted-capacity uRNNs.

Wisdom, Scott, Powers, Thomas, Hershey, John, Roux, Jonathan Le, Atlas, Les

Recurrent neural networks are powerful models for processing sequential data, but they are generally plagued by vanishing and exploding gradient problems. Unitary recurrent neural networks (uRNNs), which use unitary recurrence matrices, have recently been proposed as a means to avoid these issues. However, in previous experiments, the recurrence matrices were restricted to be a product of parameterized unitary matrices, and an open question remains: when does such a parameterization fail to represent all unitary matrices, and how does this restricted representational capacity limit what can be learned? To address this question, we propose full-capacity uRNNs that optimize their recurrence matrix over all unitary matrices, leading to significantly improved performance over uRNNs that use a restricted-capacity recurrence matrix. Our contribution consists of two main components. First, we provide a theoretical argument to determine if a unitary parameterization has restricted capacity. Using this argument, we show that a recently proposed unitary parameterization has restricted capacity for hidden state dimension greater than 7. Second,we show how a complete, full-capacity unitary recurrence matrix can be optimized over the differentiable manifold of unitary matrices. The resulting multiplicative gradient step is very simple and does not require gradient clipping or learning rate adaptation. We confirm the utility of our claims by empirically evaluating our new full-capacity uRNNs on both synthetic and natural data, achieving superior performance compared to both LSTMs and the original restricted-capacity uRNNs.

Kerg, Giancarlo, Goyette, Kyle, Touzel, Maximilian Puelma, Gidel, Gauthier, Vorontsov, Eugene, Bengio, Yoshua, Lajoie, Guillaume

A recent strategy to circumvent the exploding and vanishing gradient problem in RNNs, and to allow the stable propagation of signals over long time scales, is to constrain recurrent connectivity matrices to be orthogonal or unitary. This ensures eigenvalues with unit norm and thus stable dynamics and training. However this comes at the cost of reduced expressivity due to the limited variety of orthogonal transformations. We propose a novel connectivity structure based on the Schur decomposition and a splitting of the Schur form into normal and non-normal parts. This allows to parametrize matrices with unit-norm eigenspectra without orthogonality constraints on eigenbases. The resulting architecture ensures access to a larger space of spectrally constrained matrices, of which orthogonal matrices are a subset. This crucial difference retains the stability advantages and training speed of orthogonal RNNs while enhancing expressivity, especially on tasks that require computations over ongoing input sequences.