Spiking neural networks (SNNs) well support spatio-temporal learning and energy-efficient event-driven hardware neuromorphic processors. As an important class of SNNs, recurrent spiking neural networks (RSNNs) possess great computational power. However, the practical application of RSNNs is severely limited by challenges in training. Biologically-inspired unsupervised learning has limited capability in boosting the performance of RSNNs. On the other hand, existing backpropagation (BP) methods suffer from high complexity of unfolding in time, vanishing and exploding gradients, and approximate differentiation of discontinuous spiking activities when applied to RSNNs. To enable supervised training of RSNNs under a well-defined loss function, we present a novel Spike-Train level RSNNs Backpropagation (ST-RSBP) algorithm for training deep RSNNs. The proposed ST-RSBP directly computes the gradient of a rate-coded loss function defined at the output layer of the network w.r.t tunable parameters. The scalability of ST-RSBP is achieved by the proposed spike-train level computation during which temporal effects of the SNN is captured in both the forward and backward pass of BP. Our ST-RSBP algorithm can be broadly applied to RSNNs with a single recurrent layer or deep RSNNs with multiple feedforward and recurrent layers. Based upon challenging speech and image datasets including TI46, N-TIDIGITS, Fashion-MNIST and MNIST, ST-RSBPmore »
Hybrid macro/micro level backpropagation for training deep spiking neural networks
Spiking neural networks (SNNs) are positioned to enable spatio-temporal information processing and ultra-low power event-driven neuromorphic hardware. However, SNNs are yet to reach the same performances of conventional deep artificial neural networks (ANNs), a long-standing challenge due to complex dynamics and non-differentiable spike events encountered in training. The existing SNN error backpropagation (BP) methods are limited in terms of scalability, lack of proper handling of spiking discontinuities, and/or mismatch between the rate coded loss function and computed gradient. We present a hybrid macro/micro level backpropagation (HM2-BP) algorithm for training multi-layer SNNs. The temporal effects are precisely captured by the proposed spike-train level post-synaptic potential (S-PSP) at the microscopic level. The rate-coded errors are defined at the macroscopic level, computed and back-propagated across both macroscopic and microscopic levels. Different from existing BP methods, HM2-BP directly computes the gradient of the rate-coded loss function w.r.t tunable parameters. We evaluate the proposed HM2-BP algorithm by training deep fully connected and convolutional SNNs based on the static MNIST  and dynamic neuromorphic N-MNIST . HM2-BP achieves an accuracy level of 99:49% and 98:88% for MNIST and N-MNIST, respectively, outperforming the best reported performances obtained from the existing SNN BP algorithms. Furthermore, the HM2-BP produces more »
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