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.
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.
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.
Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are notoriously difficult to train. When the eigenvalues of the hidden to hidden weight matrix deviate from absolute value 1, optimization becomes difficult due to the well studied issue of vanishing and exploding gradients, especially when trying to learn long-term dependencies. To circumvent this problem, we propose a new architecture that learns a unitary weight matrix, with eigenvalues of absolute value exactly 1. The challenge we address is that of parametrizing unitary matrices in a way that does not require expensive computations (such as eigendecomposition) after each weight update. We construct an expressive unitary weight matrix by composing several structured matrices that act as building blocks with parameters to be learned. Optimization with this parameterization becomes feasible only when considering hidden states in the complex domain. We demonstrate the potential of this architecture by achieving state of the art results in several hard tasks involving very long-term dependencies.
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.