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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  2. The activity of the grid cell population in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) of the mammalian brain forms a vector representation of the self-position of the animal. Recurrent neural networks have been proposed to explain the properties of the grid cells by updating the neural activity vector based on the velocity input of the animal. In doing so, the grid cell system effectively performs path integration. In this paper, we investigate the algebraic, geometric, and topological properties of grid cells using recurrent network models. Algebraically, we study the Lie group and Lie algebra of the recurrent transformation as a representation of self-motion. Geometrically, we study the conformal isometry of the Lie group representation where the local displacement of the activity vector in the neural space is proportional to the local displacement of the agent in the 2D physical space. Topologically, the compact abelian Lie group representation automatically leads to the torus topology commonly assumed and observed in neuroscience. We then focus on a simple non-linear recurrent model that underlies the continuous attractor neural networks of grid cells. Our numerical experiments show that conformal isometry leads to hexagon periodic patterns in the grid cell responses and our model is capable of accurate path integration. 
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  4. Understanding how grid cells perform path integration calculations remains a fundamental problem. In this paper, we conduct theoretical analysis of a general representation model of path integration by grid cells, where the 2D self-position is encoded as a higher dimensional vector, and the 2D self-motion is represented by a general transformation of the vector. We identify two conditions on the transformation. One is a group representation condition that is necessary for path integration. The other is an isotropic scaling condition that ensures locally conformal embedding, so that the error in the vector representation translates conformally to the error in the 2D self-position. Then we investigate the simplest transformation, i.e., the linear transformation, uncover its explicit algebraic and geometric structure as matrix Lie group of rotation, and explore the connection between the isotropic scaling condition and a special class of hexagon grid patterns. Finally, with our optimization-based approach, we manage to learn hexagon grid patterns that share similar properties of the grid cells in the rodent brain. The learned model is capable of accurate long distance path integration. Code is available at 
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  6. We consider the distributed statistical learning problem in a high-dimensional adversarial scenario. At each iteration, $m$ worker machines compute stochastic gradients and send them to a master machine. However, an $\alpha$-fraction of $m$ worker machines, called Byzantine machines, may act adversarially and send faulty gradients. To guard against faulty information sharing, we develop a distributed robust learning algorithm based on Nesterov's dual averaging. This algorithms is provably robust against Byzantine machines whenever $\alpha\in[0, 1/2)$. For smooth convex functions, we show that running the proposed algorithm for $T$ iterations achieves a statistical error bound $\tilde{O}\big(1/\sqrt{mT}+\alpha/\sqrt{T}\big)$. This result holds for a large class of normed spaces and it matches the known statistical error bound for Byzantine stochastic gradient in the Euclidean space setting. A key feature of the algorithm is that the dimension dependence of the bound scales with the dual norm of the gradient; in particular, for probability simplex, we show that it depends logarithmically on the problem dimension $d$. Such a weak dependence on the dimension is desirable in high-dimensional statistical learning and it has been known to hold for the classical mirror descent but it appears to be new for the Byzantine gradient scenario. 
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