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  1. Growth-transform (GT) neurons and their population models allow for independent control over the spiking statistics and the transient population dynamics while optimizing a physically plausible distributed energy functional involving continuous-valued neural variables. In this paper we describe a backpropagation-less learning approach to train a network of spiking GT neurons by enforcing sparsity constraints on the overall network spiking activity. The key features of the model and the proposed learning framework are: (a) spike responses are generated as a result of constraint violation and hence can be viewed as Lagrangian parameters; (b) the optimal parameters for a given task can be learned using neurally relevant local learning rules and in an online manner; (c) the network optimizes itself to encode the solution with as few spikes as possible (sparsity); (d) the network optimizes itself to operate at a solution with the maximum dynamic range and away from saturation; and (e) the framework is flexible enough to incorporate additional structural and connectivity constraints on the network. As a result, the proposed formulation is attractive for designing neuromorphic tinyML systems that are constrained in energy, resources, and network structure. In this paper, we show how the approach could be used for unsupervised andmore »supervised learning such that minimizing a training error is equivalent to minimizing the overall spiking activity across the network. We then build on this framework to implement three different multi-layer spiking network architectures with progressively increasing flexibility in training and consequently, sparsity. We demonstrate the applicability of the proposed algorithm for resource-efficient learning using a publicly available machine olfaction dataset with unique challenges like sensor drift and a wide range of stimulus concentrations. In all of these case studies we show that a GT network trained using the proposed learning approach is able to minimize the network-level spiking activity while producing classification accuracy that are comparable to standard approaches on the same dataset.« less