Associative Memory via a Sparse Recovery Model

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

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Arya Mazumdar, Ankit Singh Rawat


An associative memory is a structure learned from a dataset $\mathcal{M}$ of vectors (signals) in a way such that, given a noisy version of one of the vectors as input, the nearest valid vector from $\mathcal{M}$ (nearest neighbor) is provided as output, preferably via a fast iterative algorithm. Traditionally, binary (or $q$-ary) Hopfield neural networks are used to model the above structure. In this paper, for the first time, we propose a model of associative memory based on sparse recovery of signals. Our basic premise is simple. For a dataset, we learn a set of linear constraints that every vector in the dataset must satisfy. Provided these linear constraints possess some special properties, it is possible to cast the task of finding nearest neighbor as a sparse recovery problem. Assuming generic random models for the dataset, we show that it is possible to store super-polynomial or exponential number of $n$-length vectors in a neural network of size $O(n)$. Furthermore, given a noisy version of one of the stored vectors corrupted in near-linear number of coordinates, the vector can be correctly recalled using a neurally feasible algorithm.