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  1. Vector space models for symbolic processing that encode symbols by random vectors have been proposed in cognitive science and connectionist communities under the names Vector Symbolic Architecture (VSA), and, synonymously, Hyperdimensional (HD) computing. In this paper, we generalize VSAs to function spaces by mapping continuous-valued data into a vector space such that the inner product between the representations of any two data points represents a similarity kernel. By analogy to VSA, we call this new function encoding and computing framework Vector Function Architecture (VFA). In VFAs, vectors can represent individual data points as well as elements of a function space (a reproducing kernel Hilbert space). The algebraic vector operations, inherited from VSA, correspond to well-defined operations in function space. Furthermore, we study a previously proposed method for encoding continuous data, fractional power encoding (FPE), which uses exponentiation of a random base vector to produce randomized representations of data points and fulfills the kernel properties for inducing a VFA. We show that the distribution from which elements of the base vector are sampled determines the shape of the FPE kernel, which in turn induces a VFA for computing with band-limited functions. In particular, VFAs provide an algebraic framework for implementing large-scalemore »kernel machines with random features, extending Rahimi and Recht, 2007. Finally, we demonstrate several applications of VFA models to problems in image recognition, density estimation and nonlinear regression. Our analyses and results suggest that VFAs constitute a powerful new framework for representing and manipulating functions in distributed neural systems, with myriad applications in artificial intelligence.« less
  2. The ability to encode and manipulate data structures with distributed neural representations could qualitatively enhance the capabilities of traditional neural networks by supporting rule-based symbolic reasoning, a central property of cognition. Here we show how this may be accomplished within the framework of Vector Symbolic Architectures (VSAs) (Plate, 1991; Gayler, 1998; Kanerva, 1996), whereby data structures are encoded by combining high-dimensional vectors with operations that together form an algebra on the space of distributed representations. In particular, we propose an efficient solution to a hard combinatorial search problem that arises when decoding elements of a VSA data structure: the factorization of products of multiple codevectors. Our proposed algorithm, called a resonator network, is a new type of recurrent neural network that interleaves VSA multiplication operations and pattern completion. We show in two examples—parsing of a tree-like data structure and parsing of a visual scene—how the factorization problem arises and how the resonator network can solve it. More broadly, resonator networks open the possibility of applying VSAs to myriad artificial intelligence problems in real-world domains. The companion article in this issue (Kent, Frady, Sommer, & Olshausen, 2020) presents a rigorous analysis and evaluation of the performance of resonator networks, showing itmore »outperforms alternative approaches.« less
  3. We develop theoretical foundations of resonator networks, a new type of recurrent neural network introduced in Frady, Kent, Olshausen, and Sommer (2020), a companion article in this issue, to solve a high-dimensional vector factorization problem arising in Vector Symbolic Architectures. Given a composite vector formed by the Hadamard product between a discrete set of high-dimensional vectors, a resonator network can efficiently decompose the composite into these factors. We compare the performance of resonator networks against optimization-based methods, including Alternating Least Squares and several gradient-based algorithms, showing that resonator networks are superior in several important ways. This advantage is achieved by leveraging a combination of nonlinear dynamics and searching in superposition, by which estimates of the correct solution are formed from a weighted superposition of all possible solutions. While the alternative methods also search in superposition, the dynamics of resonator networks allow them to strike a more effective balance between exploring the solution space and exploiting local information to drive the network toward probable solutions. Resonator networks are not guaranteed to converge, but within a particular regime they almost always do. In exchange for relaxing the guarantee of global convergence, resonator networks are dramatically more effective at finding factorizations than allmore »alternative approaches considered.« less
  4. Information coding by precise timing of spikes can be faster and more energy efficient than traditional rate coding. However, spike-timing codes are often brittle, which has limited their use in theoretical neuroscience and computing applications. Here, we propose a type of attractor neural network in complex state space and show how it can be leveraged to construct spiking neural networks with robust computational properties through a phase-to-timing mapping. Building on Hebbian neural associative memories, like Hopfield networks, we first propose threshold phasor associative memory (TPAM) networks. Complex phasor patterns whose components can assume continuous-valued phase angles and binary magnitudes can be stored and retrieved as stable fixed points in the network dynamics. TPAM achieves high memory capacity when storing sparse phasor patterns, and we derive the energy function that governs its fixed-point attractor dynamics. Second, we construct 2 spiking neural networks to approximate the complex algebraic computations in TPAM, a reductionist model with resonate-and-fire neurons and a biologically plausible network of integrate-and-fire neurons with synaptic delays and recurrently connected inhibitory interneurons. The fixed points of TPAM correspond to stable periodic states of precisely timed spiking activity that are robust to perturbation. The link established between rhythmic firing patterns and complexmore »attractor dynamics has implications for the interpretation of spike patterns seen in neuroscience and can serve as a framework for computation in emerging neuromorphic devices.« less