Sensitive finite state computations using a distributed network with a noisy network attractor
IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
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We exhibit a class of smooth continuous-state neural-inspired networks composed of simple nonlinear elements that can be made to function as a finite state computational machine. We give an explicit construction of arbitrary finitestate virtual machines in the spatio-temporal dynamics of the network. The dynamics of the functional network can be completely characterised as a “noisy network attractor” in phase space operating in either an “excitable” or a “free-running” regime, respectively corresponding to excitable or heteroclinic connections between states. The regime depends on the sign of an “excitability parameter”. Viewing the network as a nonlinear stochastic differential equation where deterministic (signal) and/or stochastic (noise) input are applied to any element, we explore the influence of signal to noise ratio on the error rate of the computations. The free-running regime is extremely sensitive to inputs: arbitrarily small amplitude perturbations can be used to perform computations with the system as long as the input dominates the noise. We find a counter-intuitive regime where increasing noise amplitude can lead to more, rather than less, accurate computation. We suggest that noisy network attractors will be useful for understanding neural networks that reliably and sensitively perform finite-state computations in a noisy environment.
PA gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the EPSRC via grant EP/N014391/1. CMP acknowledges travel funding from the University of Auckland and support from the London Mathematical Laboratory.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from IEEE via the DOI in this record.
Published online 04 April 2018.