Results for the Digital step


1- The GBNN model has been renamed ENN (Encoded Neural Network), but what are we talking about ?

A ENN is an abstract neural network model based on sparse clustered networks that can be used to design associative memories. The principle of ENN is to gather sets of neurons in clusters. Neurons (also called fanals) that belong to the same cluster cannot be connected to each other (this principle is called sparcity). However, any neuron of a given cluster can be connected to any neuron in any other cluster. More precisely, the network consists of N binary neurons arranged into C equally-partitioned clusters and each cluster includes L=N/C neurons. Each cluster is associated through one of its neurons with a portion of an input message to be learned or retrieved. A message m of K bits is thus divided into C clusters each with L fanals and the length of the sub-message associated with each cluster is X = K/C = log2(L). During the learning phase, the network memorizes that the set of activated neurons (i.e. the set of neurons that constitute the input message) are connected to each other and form a clique. Unlike Hopfield networks, ENN uses binary weighted connections between neurons to record if a connection exists or not. Then, to memorize a connection that exists between one neuron i of cluster j, ni,j  and one neuron k from cluster g nk,g (with j≠g), each neuron stores locally the value ‘1’ in its corresponding synaptic weight w (i.e. w(i,j)(k,g)=1 in cluster j and w(k,g)(i,j)=1 in cluster g). All the weights are initialized to 0 i.e. no message has been learnt before training.

The retrieving process is based on a Scoring step and a Winner Takes All (WTA) step to detect which neuron, in a cluster associated to a missing part of the message, is the most “stimulated” one. Equation (1) defines the original scoring function used to compute the “score” of a neuron ni,j at time instance t+1, st+1ni,j. This score depends on all the values of the other neurons k from all the other clusters g (i.e. nk,g) in the ENN computed at time instant t (i.e. in the previous iteration of the network) and on the corresponding synaptic weights (i.e. value of w(k,g)(i,j)) that have been stored during the learning process.

(cf our report for the equation 1)

The WTA equation (2) allows defining in each cluster cj the neuron ni,j or the group of neurons to activate i.e. the neuron or the group of neurons that achieves the maximum score Smax.

(cf our report for the equation 2)

The network converges in a few time instances i.e. iterations. At the end of the process, the clusters which originally had no selected neuron are provided with the selection of a neuron or a group of neurons. The answer of the network is then defined by the set of neurons that were chosen to represent each single cluster.

The next figure presents a ENN neural network based on 3 clusters of 3 neurons. Let us consider that the network has learned three messages represented by cliques: (n1,0, n0,1, n0,2), (n2,0, n1,1, n0,2) and (n2,0, n2,1, n0,2). These cliques are represented by using a binary synaptic-weight matrix (also called “Interconnection matrix”) thanks to a classical representation of adjacency matrix as depicted in this figure. Each line of the matrix contains the weights storing the existence -or not- of connections between the neurons of a cluster and the neurons of other clusters. There is no element in the diagonal since the neurons of a given cluster cannot be connected between them. Note that this means that these connections are not represented in the synaptic weights matrix (i.e. the diagonal of the matrix is missing). For example, the message (n1,0, n0,1, n0,2) is memorized in the matrix through weights:

(cf our report for the example)

Next, if a partial message (_, n1,1, n0,2) is presented to the network, where _ denotes a missing symbol (i.e. sub-message associated to cluster 0 is missing), then the network must take a decision. The values of the known neurons are first activated (i.e. the values of the neurons associated to known sub-messages are set to 1) and the values of all the neurons are then broadcasted through the network. At the end of the scoring step, neurons n1,0 and n2,0 in cluster c0 have a score of 1 and 2 respectively. Indeed, neuron n2,0 receives two non-null values since it is linked to two active neurons (i.e. neurons n1,1 and n0,2) while neuron n1,0 receives only one non null value (from neuron n0,2). Hence, at the end of this iteration, neuron n2,0 will be selected as the activated neuron by the Winner Take All algorithm.


2- What about ENN based architecture for SENSE ?

First of all, it appears that the classical version of the ENN model was not smart enough to meet our expectations. This was not new for us, since we originally plan to explore the possible evolutions of the ENN model in order to be able to use it in the SENSE vision system.

However, our work in order to explore and to define these new formal aspects (and associated hardware architectures) has been performed thanks to another PhD thesis (i.e. not funded by the SENSE project). This ENN model offers a storage capacity exceeding the one issued from Hopfield networks when the information to be stored has a uniform distribution. Methods improving performance for non-uniform distributions and hardware architectures implementing the ENN networks were proposed. However, on one hand, these solutions are very expensive in terms of hardware resources and on the other hand, the proposed architectures can only implement networks with fixed sizes and they are not scalable. The objectives of this thesis are: (1) to design ENN inspired models outperforming the state of the art, (2) to propose architectures cheaper than existing solutions and (3) to design a generic architecture implementing the proposed models and able to handle various sizes of networks.

The results of these works are : (1) the concept of clone based neural networks and its variants has been explored and the proposed Clone-based ENN offers better performance than the state of the art for the same memory cost,  even when a non-uniform distribution of the information to be stored is considered. The hardware architecture optimizations have also been introduced and they demonstrate significant cost reduction in terms of resources. Finally, a generic scalable architecture able to handle various sizes of networks is proposed.


2- How to use ENN based architecture for vision ?

To design embedded visual systems, two complementary axes can be considered. The first is the conception of new hardware architectures able to efficiently implement vision algorithms. This task has been explored in collaboration with a post-doctorant. The second is the conception of algorithms that are less resource hungry in terms of computations and storages.

In our work, we propose less complex models for visual processing based on our ENN and efficient numeric architectures to implement them. The models we are working on are connectionist models. They are computing models based on networks of small processing elements inspired by biological neural networks. Our work is then divided into two parts, each one targeting a specific task of computer vision.

In the first part we consider the nearest neighbor search. Given a query vector, the goal is to retrieve in a large set of vectors the closest ones using a given metric like Euclidean distance. It is a well-known function in computer vision and it is used for applications like image retrieval, descriptor matching and non-parametric classification. Depending of the application, a vector can be a visual descriptor or a set of features representing an image. To perform that task, we improve our existing model of associative memory (based on ENN). An associative memory is a storage system where the stored data are accessed using their content or a noisy version of it rather than an index. That model uses binary neurons and connections and offers a large storage capacity. Those properties allow design energy efficient systems. The original model cannot be used for the nearest neighbor search. Therefore, we propose several evolutions of the original model to perform nearest neighbor search and we evaluate the impact of these evolutions on the hardware architectures.

In the second part, we consider the problem of image classification. Image classification consists in associating an index to an image according to their content. In terms of model, we use deep convolutional neural networks (DNNs) which are the models that own the highest performance regarding the classification accuracy. While DNNs give the best classification accuracy, they are resource hungry (memory and computation) and cannot be implemented on embedded systems. Several works solve that problem by compressing the network after training it. For that, they use several methods like vector quantization after the training phase. The compression process reduces the resources required by the network but it also leads to a degradation of the performance. To reduce the complexity of such network while maintaining high classification accuracy we propose to tightly couple the compression step with the training phase, in a DNN using on our enhanced ENN model.