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Workshop: Machine Learning with New Compute Paradigms

Frequency propagation: Multi-mechanism learning in nonlinear physical networks

Vidyesh Anisetti · Ananth Kandala · Benjamin Scellier · J. M. Schwarz

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Sat 16 Dec 9:25 a.m. PST — 10:30 a.m. PST


We introduce frequency propagation, a learning algorithm for nonlinear physical networks. In a resistive electrical circuit with variable resistors, an activation current is applied at a set of input nodes at one frequency, and an error current is applied at a set of output nodes at another frequency. The voltage response of the circuit to these boundary currents is the superposition of an 'activation signal' and an 'error signal' whose coefficients can be read in different frequencies of the frequency domain. Each conductance is updated proportionally to the product of the two coefficients. The learning rule is local and proved to perform gradient descent on a loss function.We argue that frequency propagation is an instance of a multi-mechanism learning strategy for physical networks, be it resistive, elastic, or flow networks. Multi-mechanism learning strategies incorporate at least two physical quantities, potentially governed by independent physical mechanisms, to act as activation and error signals in the training process. Locally available information about these two signals is then used to update the trainable parameters to perform gradient descent. We demonstrate how earlier work implementing learning via chemical signaling in flow networks [1] also falls under the rubric of multi-mechanism learning.[1] - V. Anisetti, B. Scellier, and J. M. Schwarz, “Learning by non-interfering feedback chemical signaling235in physical networks,” arXiv preprint arXiv:2203.12098, 2022.

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