The harmonic oscillator for associative memory and pattern recognition in Artificial Intelligence is certainly the Hopfield model  (or, equivalently , its dual representation, i.e. the Restricted Boltzmann Machine (RBM) ). In a nutshell, we can store information (consisting in a set of P digital words or -generally speaking- patterns of information) by suitably modifying the synaptic interactions among neurons in the Hopfield neural network by means of the so-called Hebbian learning (or by using contrastive divergence algorithms for training RBMs).
However, since the seminal AGS theory , we know that -for this model- the critical capacity αc (namely the maximal amount of patterns Pmax a network equipped with N neurons can handle, i.e. αc = Pmax/N), is αc ∼ 0.14. On the other side, general information theoretical considerations (i.e., Gardner Theory ) prescribe that the maximal critical capacity for networks equipped with symmetric couplings (as the Hopfield model) is precisely αc = 1 (i.e. Pmax = N), significantly better than the Hopfield case.
Recently, in our work , we have shown that forcing the network to sleep -namely, mathematically implementing dreaming processes (mimicking slow wave sleep (SWS) and random eye movements (REM) phases in real mammal’s brain), after a proper rest the Hopfield model has impressive enhanced skills. In particular, it reaches the maximal bound for the critical storage, i.e. αc = 1, further, stored patterns are very stable configurations (technically speaking, they are free energy absolute minima) up to α ∼ 0.85 (while in standard Hopfield picture, this is true solely for α < 0.05). This is a remarkable property as, in the long time limit, any stochastic neural dynamics for the standard Hopfield model, if α > 0.05, almost surely ends up in a (spin-glass) state that does not overlap significantly with any of the stored patterns; while -if the network can sleep- this happens only for α > 0.85 conferring to network’s functionalities an enhanced robustness with respect to severe loads of patterns.
Finally, thanks to the equivalence between RBMs and Hopfield networks , we know that the ratio α = P/N in the Hopfield retrieval matches the ratio among the size of the hidden layer (built of P hidden neurons) over that of the visible one (build of N visible neurons) for RBMs. In the standard scenario, if the hidden layer is larger than ∼ 0.14 times the visible one, learning can be prone to over-fitting (as its dual Hopfield model would lie already outside the working regime, in the spin-glass phase). Allowing the network to sleep, we can learn without over-fitting even by keeping the two layers roughly of the same size (and this obviously allows to extract much more features from the data-sets presented to the network during the training stage).
Summarizing, we believe that in the process of cognition -while certainly learning and retrieval keep covering a pivotal role – also sleeping is mandatory for Artificial Intelligence, as it is for the biological one.
These findings are described in the article entitled Dreaming neural networks: Forgetting spurious memories and reinforcing pure ones, recently published in the journal Neural Networks.
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- A. Fachechi, E. Agliari, A. Barra, Dreaming neural networks: forgetting spurious memories and reinforcing pure ones, Neural Networks (2019) in press