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Logical Activation Functions: Logit-space equivalents of Probabilistic Boolean Operators

Scott Lowe · Robert Earle · Jason d'Eon · Thomas Trappenberg · Sageev Oore

Hall J (level 1) #842

Keywords: [ logic ] [ probabilistic ] [ Bayesian ] [ activation functions ] [ activation ] [ logit ] [ dendritic computation ] [ Boolean ]

Abstract: The choice of activation functions and their motivation is a long-standing issue within the neural network community. Neuronal representations within artificial neural networks are commonly understood as logits, representing the log-odds score of presence of features within the stimulus. We derive logit-space operators equivalent to probabilistic Boolean logic-gates AND, OR, and XNOR for independent probabilities. Such theories are important to formalize more complex dendritic operations in real neurons, and these operations can be used as activation functions within a neural network, introducing probabilistic Boolean-logic as the core operation of the neural network. Since these functions involve taking multiple exponents and logarithms, they are computationally expensive and not well suited to be directly used within neural networks. Consequently, we construct efficient approximations named $\text{AND}_\text{AIL}$ (the AND operator Approximate for Independent Logits), $\text{OR}_\text{AIL}$, and $\text{XNOR}_\text{AIL}$, which utilize only comparison and addition operations, have well-behaved gradients, and can be deployed as activation functions in neural networks. Like MaxOut, $\text{AND}_\text{AIL}$ and $\text{OR}_\text{AIL}$ are generalizations of ReLU to two-dimensions. While our primary aim is to formalize dendritic computations within a logit-space probabilistic-Boolean framework, we deploy these new activation functions, both in isolation and in conjunction to demonstrate their effectiveness on a variety of tasks including tabular classification, image classification, transfer learning, abstract reasoning, and compositional zero-shot learning.

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