On the role of synaptic stochasticity in training low-precision neural networks

Stochasticity and limited precision of synaptic weights in neural network models are key aspects of both biological and hardware modeling of learning processes. Here we show that a neural network model with stochastic binary weights naturally gives prominence to exponentially rare dense regions of solutions with a number of desirable properties such as robustness and good generalization performance, while typical solutions are isolated and hard to find... Binary solutions of the standard perceptron problem are obtained from a simple gradient descent procedure on a set of real values parametrizing a probability distribution over the binary synapses. Both analytical and numerical results are presented. An algorithmic extension aimed at training discrete deep neural networks is also investigated. read more

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