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  1. Spiking neural networks (SNNs) are well suited for spatio-temporal learning and implementations on energy-efficient event-driven neuromorphic processors. However, existing SNN error backpropagation (BP) methods lack proper handling of spiking discontinuities and suffer from low performance compared with the BP methods for traditional artificial neural networks. In addition, a large number of time steps are typically required to achieve decent performance, leading to high latency and rendering spike based computation unscalable to deep architectures. We present a novel Temporal Spike Sequence Learning Backpropagation (TSSL-BP) method for training deep SNNs, which breaks down error backpropagation across two types of inter-neuron and intra-neuron dependencies and leads to improved temporal learning precision. It captures inter-neuron dependencies through presynaptic firing times by considering the all-or-none characteristics of firing activities, and captures intra-neuron dependencies by handling the internal evolution of each neuronal state in time. TSSL-BP efficiently trains deep SNNs within a much shortened temporal window of a few steps while improving the accuracy for various image classification datasets including CIFAR10.
  2. Spiking neural networks (SNNs) offer a promising biologically-plausible computing model and lend themselves to ultra-low-power event-driven processing on neuromorphic processors. Compared with the conventional artificial neural networks, SNNs are well-suited for processing complex spatiotemporal data. Despite its significance, dataflow optimization of spiking neural accelerator architectures has not been extensively studied. Recognizing the need for efficient processing of complex spatiotemporal data while considering the all-or-none nature of spiking activities, we propose holistic reconfigurable dataflow optimization for systolic array acceleration of spiking convolutional networks (S-CNNs). A novel scheme is introduced for parallel acceleration of computation across multiple time points, which further allows for systemic optimization of variable tiling for a large performance and efficiency gains. We show how variable tiling, in particular, the positioning of the temporal dimension, can be targeted to optimize data movement, throughput, and energy efficiency. Furthermore, we explore joint layer-dependent dataflow and accelerator hardware optimization to further boost performance and energy efficiency. To support systemic design space exploration, we develop an SNN dataflow simulator capable of analyzing the throughput and energy dissipation of systolic array accelerators for any targeted S-CNN while considering the inherent spatiotemporal characteristics of spiking neural computation. The proposed techniques deliver orders of magnitude ofmore »improvements on throughput, energy efficiency, and delay-energy product for accelerating deep Alexnet and VGG-16 SNNs.« less
  3. 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 »is able to train SNNs with an accuracy surpassing that of the current state-of-the-art SNN BP algorithms and conventional non-spiking deep learning models.« less
  4. 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 [14] and dynamic neuromorphic N-MNIST [26]. 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 producesmore »the highest accuracies based on SNNs for the EMNIST [3] dataset, and leads to high recognition accuracy for the 16-speaker spoken English letters of TI46 Corpus [16], a challenging spatio-temporal speech recognition benchmark for which no prior success based on SNNs was reported. It also achieves competitive performances surpassing those of conventional deep learning models when dealing with asynchronous spiking streams.« less