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.

The underlying dynamical system carries temporal information from one time step to another and captures potential dependencies among the terms of a sequence. Like other deep neural networks, the weights of an RNN are learned by gradient descent. For the input at a time step to affect the output at a later time step, the gradients must back-propagate through each step. Since a sequence can be quite long, RNNs are prone to suffer from vanishing or exploding gradients as described in (Bengio, Frasconi, and Simard 1993) and (Pas-canu, Mikolov, and Bengio 2013). One consequence of this well-known problem is the difficulty of the network to model input-output dependency over a large number of time steps. There have been many different architectures that are designed to mitigate this problem. The most popular RNN architectures such as LSTMs (Hochreiter and Schmidhu-ber 1997) and GRUs (Cho et al. 2014), incorporate a gating mechanism to explicitly retain or discard information.

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.