Training Linear Finite-State Machines

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Arash Ardakani, Amir Ardakani, Warren Gross


<p>A finite-state machine (FSM) is a computation model to process binary strings in sequential circuits. Hence, a single-input linear FSM is conventionally used to implement complex single-input functions , such as tanh and exponentiation functions, in stochastic computing (SC) domain where continuous values are represented by sequences of random bits. In this paper, we introduce a method that can train a multi-layer FSM-based network where FSMs are connected to every FSM in the previous and the next layer. We show that the proposed FSM-based network can synthesize multi-input complex functions such as 2D Gabor filters and can perform non-sequential tasks such as image classifications on stochastic streams with no multiplication since FSMs are implemented by look-up tables only. Inspired by the capability of FSMs in processing binary streams, we then propose an FSM-based model that can process time series data when performing temporal tasks such as character-level language modeling. Unlike long short-term memories (LSTMs) that unroll the network for each input time step and perform back-propagation on the unrolled network, our FSM-based model requires to backpropagate gradients only for the current input time step while it is still capable of learning long-term dependencies. Therefore, our FSM-based model can learn extremely long-term dependencies as it requires 1/l memory storage during training compared to LSTMs, where l is the number of time steps. Moreover, our FSM-based model reduces the power consumption of training on a GPU by 33% compared to an LSTM model of the same size. </p>