Backpropagated Neighborhood Aggregation for Accurate Training of Spiking Neural Networks
Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 139:11852-11862, 2021.
While Backpropagation (BP) has been applied to spiking neural networks (SNNs) achieving encouraging results, a key challenge involved is to backpropagate a differentiable continuous-valued loss over layers of spiking neurons exhibiting discontinuous all-or-none firing activities. Existing methods deal with this difficulty by introducing compromises that come with their own limitations, leading to potential performance degradation. We propose a novel BP-like method, called neighborhood aggregation (NA), which computes accurate error gradients guiding weight updates that may lead to discontinuous modifications of firing activities. NA achieves this goal by aggregating the error gradient over multiple spike trains in the neighborhood of the present spike train of each neuron. The employed aggregation is based on a generalized finite difference approximation with a proposed distance metric quantifying the similarity between a given pair of spike trains. Our experiments show that the proposed NA algorithm delivers state-of-the-art performance for SNN training on several datasets including CIFAR10.