StochasticNet: Forming Deep Neural networks via Stochastic Connectivity

TitleStochasticNet: Forming Deep Neural networks via Stochastic Connectivity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsShafiee, M. J., P. Siva, and A. Wong
JournalIEEE Access Journal
Start Page1915
Date Published04/2016
KeywordsDeep convolutional neural network, random graph, StochasticNet

Deep neural networks are a branch in machine learning that has seen a meteoric rise in popularity due to its powerful abilities to represent and model high-level abstractions in highly complex data. One area in deep neural networks that are ripe for exploration is neural connectivity formation. A pivotal study on the brain tissue of rats found that synaptic formation for specific functional connectivity in neocortical neural microcircuits can be surprisingly well modeled and predicted as a random formation. Motivated by this intriguing finding, we introduce the concept of StochasticNet where deep neural networks are formed via stochastic connectivity between neurons. As a result, any type of deep neural networks can be formed as a StochasticNet by allowing the neuron connectivity to be stochastic. Stochastic synaptic formations in a deep neural network architecture can allow for efficient utilization of neurons for performing specific tasks. To evaluate the feasibility of such a deep neural network architecture, we train a StochasticNet using four different image datasets (CIFAR-10, MNIST, SVHN, and STL-10). Experimental results show that a StochasticNet using less than half the number of neural connections as a conventional deep neural network achieves comparable accuracy and reduces overfitting on the CIFAR-10, MNIST, and SVHN data sets. Interestingly, StochasticNet with less than half the number of neural connections, achieved a higher accuracy (relative improvement in test error rate of ∼6% compared to ConvNet) on the STL-10 data set than a conventional deep neural network. Finally, the StochasticNets have faster operational speeds while achieving better or similar accuracy performances