Rectified Linear Postsynaptic Potential Function for Backpropagation in Deep Spiking Neural Networks.
Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) use spatio-temporal spike patterns to represent and transmit information, which is not only biologically realistic but also suitable for ultra-low-power event-driven neuromorphic implementation. Motivated by the success of deep learning, the study of Deep Spiking Neural Networks (DeepSNNs) provides promising directions for artificial intelligence applications. However, training of DeepSNNs is not straightforward because the well-studied error back-propagation (BP) algorithm is not directly applicable. In this paper, we first establish an understanding as to why error back-propagation does not work well in DeepSNNs. To address this problem, we propose a simple yet efficient Rectified Linear Postsynaptic Potential function (ReL-PSP) for spiking neurons and propose a Spike-Timing-Dependent Back-Propagation (STDBP) learning algorithm for DeepSNNs. In STDBP algorithm, the timing of individual spikes is used to convey information (temporal coding), and learning (back-propagation) is performed based on spike timing in an event-driven manner. Our experimental results show that the proposed learning algorithm achieves state-of-the-art classification accuracy in single spike time based learning algorithms of DeepSNNs. Furthermore, by utilizing the trained model parameters obtained from the proposed STDBP learning algorithm, we demonstrate the ultra-low-power inference operations on a recently proposed neuromorphic inference accelerator. Experimental results show that the neuromorphic hardware consumes 0.751~mW of the total power consumption and achieves a low latency of 47.71~ms to classify an image from the MNIST dataset. Overall, this work investigates the contribution of spike timing dynamics to information encoding, synaptic plasticity and decision making, providing a new perspective to design of future DeepSNNs and neuromorphic hardware systems.