The Synthesis of XNOR Recurrent Neural Networks with Stochastic Logic

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Arash Ardakani, Zhengyun Ji, Amir Ardakani, Warren Gross


The emergence of XNOR networks seek to reduce the model size and computational cost of neural networks for their deployment on specialized hardware requiring real-time processes with limited hardware resources. In XNOR networks, both weights and activations are binary, bringing great benefits to specialized hardware by replacing expensive multiplications with simple XNOR operations. Although XNOR convolutional and fully-connected neural networks have been successfully developed during the past few years, there is no XNOR network implementing commonly-used variants of recurrent neural networks such as long short-term memories (LSTMs). The main computational core of LSTMs involves vector-matrix multiplications followed by a set of non-linear functions and element-wise multiplications to obtain the gate activations and state vectors, respectively. Several previous attempts on quantization of LSTMs only focused on quantization of the vector-matrix multiplications in LSTMs while retaining the element-wise multiplications in full precision. In this paper, we propose a method that converts all the multiplications in LSTMs to XNOR operations using stochastic computing. To this end, we introduce a weighted finite-state machine and its synthesis method to approximate the non-linear functions used in LSTMs on stochastic bit streams. Experimental results show that the proposed XNOR LSTMs reduce the computational complexity of their quantized counterparts by a factor of 86x without any sacrifice on latency while achieving a better accuracy across various temporal tasks.