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# MC-LSTM: Mass-Conserving LSTM

*Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 139:4275-4286, 2021.

#### Abstract

The success of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) in computer vision is mainly driven by their strong inductive bias, which is strong enough to allow CNNs to solve vision-related tasks with random weights, meaning without learning. Similarly, Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) has a strong inductive bias towards storing information over time. However, many real-world systems are governed by conservation laws, which lead to the redistribution of particular quantities {—} e.g.in physical and economical systems. Our novel Mass-Conserving LSTM (MC-LSTM) adheres to these conservation laws by extending the inductive bias of LSTM to model the redistribution of those stored quantities. MC-LSTMs set a new state-of-the-art for neural arithmetic units at learning arithmetic operations, such as addition tasks,which have a strong conservation law, as the sum is constant over time. Further, MC-LSTM is applied to traffic forecasting, modeling a pendulum, and a large benchmark dataset in hydrology, where it sets a new state-of-the-art for predicting peak flows. In the hydrology example, we show that MC-LSTM states correlate with real world processes and are therefore interpretable.