Cluster-based Input Weight Initialization for Echo State Networks

8 Mar 2021  ·  Peter Steiner, Azarakhsh Jalalvand, Peter Birkholz ·

Echo State Networks (ESNs) are a special type of recurrent neural networks (RNNs), in which the input and recurrent connections are traditionally generated randomly, and only the output weights are trained. Despite the recent success of ESNs in various tasks of audio, image and radar recognition, we postulate that a purely random initialization is not the ideal way of initializing ESNs. The aim of this work is to propose an unsupervised initialization of the input connections using the $K$-Means algorithm on the training data. We show that for a large variety of datasets this initialization performs equivalently or superior than a randomly initialized ESN whilst needing significantly less reservoir neurons. Furthermore, we discuss that this approach provides the opportunity to estimate a suitable size of the reservoir based on prior knowledge about the data.

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