Pairwise Neural Networks (PairNets) with Low Memory for Fast On-Device Applications

by   Luna M. Zhang, et al.

A traditional artificial neural network (ANN) is normally trained slowly by a gradient descent algorithm, such as the backpropagation algorithm, since a large number of hyperparameters of the ANN need to be fine-tuned with many training epochs. Since a large number of hyperparameters of a deep neural network, such as a convolutional neural network, occupy much memory, a memory-inefficient deep learning model is not ideal for real-time Internet of Things (IoT) applications on various devices, such as mobile phones. Thus, it is necessary to develop fast and memory-efficient Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) systems for real-time on-device applications. We created a novel wide and shallow 4-layer ANN called "Pairwise Neural Network" ("PairNet") with high-speed non-gradient-descent hyperparameter optimization. The PairNet is trained quickly with only one epoch since its hyperparameters are directly optimized one-time via simply solving a system of linear equations by using the multivariate least squares fitting method. In addition, an n-input space is partitioned into many n-input data subspaces, and a local PairNet is built in a local n-input subspace. This divide-and-conquer approach can train the local PairNet using specific local features to improve model performance. Simulation results indicate that the three PairNets with incremental learning have smaller average prediction mean squared errors, and achieve much higher speeds than traditional ANNs. An important future work is to develop better and faster non-gradient-descent hyperparameter optimization algorithms to generate effective, fast, and memory-efficient PairNets with incremental learning on optimal subspaces for real-time AIoT on-device applications.



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Research in Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) has had various important breakthroughs since the first work in ANNs was done in 1943 (McCulloch and Pitts 1943). In general, three major types of ANNs include the neuroscience-based ANN, the non-neuroscience-based ANN, and the hybrid ANN based on both neuroscience and other sciences. Brief overviews about the three ANNs are introduced as follows.

The first important research problem is how to develop an effective ANN based on neuroscience and cognitive science. Hebb reinforced the artificial neurons defined by McCulloch and Pitts and showed how they worked in 1949 (Hebb 1949). It noted that neural pathways were strengthened each time that they were used. If two nerves fire simultaneously, then the connection between them becomes enhanced. The advanced Hebbian-LMS learning algorithm was developed in 2015 (Widrow et al. 2015).

The second important research problem is how to develop an effective ANN based on sciences other than neuroscience. In 1957, Rosenblatt invented the perceptron (Rosenblatt 1958). Unfortunately, the simple single-layer perceptron had limited ability for pattern recognition (Minsky and Papert, 1969). In 1959, Widrow and Hoff developed new models called ADALINE and MADALINE. MADALINE (Many ADALINE) was the first neural network to be applied to real world problems (Widrow and Hoff 1992). In 1960, Widrow and Hoff developed the least mean squares (LMS) algorithm (Widrow et al. 1960). In early 1970s, Werbos developed the non-neuroscience-based backpropagation algorithm for training multilayer neural networks (Werbos 1974). Backpropagation is an efficient and precise technique in calculating all of the derivatives of a target quantity, such as pattern classification error with respect to a large set of input quantities, which may be weights in a neural network. The weights get optimized to minimize the loss function (Werbos 1990). Rumelhart, Hinton, and Williams publicized and described the backpropagation method for multilayer neural networks in 1986 (Rumelhart et al. 1986). In recent years, Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) with more hidden layers than shallow neural networks have many applications in computer vision (Larochelle et al. 2009; He et al. 2016; Szegedy et al. 2015), image processing (Krizhevsky et al. 2012), pattern recognition (Szegedy et al. 2017), bioinformatics (Esteva et al. 2017), etc. Deep learning is an important research area in machine learning and artificial intelligence that allows computational models with many processing layers to more accurately learn and model high-level abstractions from data (LeCun et al. 2015). An application is DeepMind’s AlphaGo, a computer program that is very powerful in the game of Go (Silver et al. 2016). It uses neural networks as one of its techniques, with extensive training. Deep belief networks are a specific type of DNN that are probabilistic models with layers typically made of restricted Boltzmann machines (Hinton et al. 2006). In particular, DNNs, such as Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), typically take a very long time to be trained well.

The third important research problem is how to develop an effective hybrid ANN based on both neuroscience and other sciences. For example, a new plastic neural network has a hybrid architecture based on properties of biological neural networks and a traditional ANN (Miconi et al. 2018). However, it still applies the slow backpropagation training algorithm to optimize weights of the plastic neural network.

The ANN and the hybrid ANN have hyperparameters to be optimized, such as weights between neurons, numbers of different layers, numbers of neurons on different layers, and different activation functions mapping summations of weighted inputs to outputs. An important research goal is to develop a new ANN with high computation speed and high performance, such as low validation errors, for various real-time machine learning applications. Some problems are discussed as follows.

First, backpropagation is a popular gradient descent-based training algorithm that is used to optimize weights, but it is a very slow optimization process which needs extensive training with many epochs. Other intelligent training algorithms use various advanced optimization methods, such as genetic algorithms (Loussaief and Abdelkrim 2018), and particle swarm optimization methods (Sinha et al. 2018) and to try to find optimal hyperparameters of an ANN. However, these commonly used training algorithms also require very long training times.

Secondly, neural network structure optimization algorithms also take a lot of time to find optimal or near-optimal numbers of different layers and numbers of neurons on different layers. Especially, DNNs need much longer time. Thus, it is useful to develop fast wide and shallow neural networks with relatively small numbers of neurons on different layers for real-time machine learning applications.

Traditionally, an ANN is trained very slowly by a gradient descent algorithm such as the backpropagation algorithm since a large number of hyperparameters of the ANN need to be fine-tuned with many training epochs. Therefore, the ANN’s hyperparameter optimization challenge is how to develop high-speed non-gradient-descent training algorithms to optimize ANN’s architecture. Many current DNNs, such as CNNs, occupy a lot of memory. Thus, it is necessary to develop fast and memory-efficient machine learning systems for real-time AIoT applications.

For these long-term research problems related to building fast and memory-efficient systems of AIoT, we created a novel shallow 4-layer ANN called the Pairwise Neural Network (PairNet) (Zhang, 2019). In this paper, we created a new high-speed non-gradient-descent hyperparameter optimization algorithm with incremental learning for a PairNet with low memory for real-time AIoT applications.

Pairwise Neural Network (PairNet)

For a regression problem, the PairNet consists of four layers of neurons that map inputs on the first layer to one numerical output on the fourth layer.

Layer 1: Layer 1 has neuron pairs to map inputs to outputs. Each pair has two neurons where one neuron has an increasing activation function that generates a positive normalized value, and the other neuron has a decreasing activation function that generates a negative normalized value for .

Layer 2: Layer 2 consists of neurons, where each neuron has an activation function to map inputs to an output as a complementary decision fusion. Each of the inputs is an output of one of the two neurons of each neuron pair on Layer 1. Let denote , and denote for . Sample activation functions of neurons on Layer 2 are given as follows:


where are hyperparameters to be optimized for , , and . . For a special case, equal weights for .

Layer 3: Layer 3 also consists of neurons but transforms the outputs of the second layer to individual output decisions.


where . , sample activation functions of neurons on Layer 3, are defined as


where .

Layer 4: Layer 4 calculates a final output decision by computing a weighted average of the individual output decisions of Layer 3. , a sample activation function of the output neuron on Layer 4, is given by


where .

For convenience, we have




where for .

We have


Finally, the PairNet consists of the linear and the nonlinear .

A 3-input-1-output PairNet is shown in Fig. 1.

Figure 1: A 3-input-1-output PairNet

Fast Training Algorithm with Hyperparameter Optimization

We develop a new fast multivariate least-squares algorithm to directly find optimal hyperparameters for the best-fitting model by quickly solving a system of linear equations for a given training dataset. For inputs, linear equations need to be solved to get hyperparameters to minimize the mean squared error (MSE). Significantly, gradient descent training with a large number of epochs is not needed at all. The PairNet is quickly trained with only one epoch using the multivariate least squares fitting method since more epochs are not applicable.

A data set has inputs for , and one output . It has data. An input has intervals in such that , , …, , and for , and . Then there are () -dimensional subspaces for . data are distributed in the -dimensional subspaces. A -dimensional subspace has data with outputs for , , and . For each -dimensional subspace such as (, , …, , and ), a PairNet can map inputs for to one output for . Thus, an -input space is partitioned into many -input data subspaces, and a local PairNet is built in a local -input subspace. This divide-and-conquer approach can train the local PairNet using specific local features to improve model performance.

The objective optimization function for a PairNet for is given below:


To minimize by optimizing parameters ( and ) for , we have


then we have


We have linear equations with hyperparameters ( and ) for as follows:


The fast hyperparameter optimization algorithm for creating PairNet models in subspaces is given in Algorithm 1.

1: (the number of intervals of each input ) for
2:optimized hyperparameters and for for a subspace for
4:for  to  do
5:     For each subspace , calculate hyperparameters and for based on Eq. (14).
6:end for
7:return PairNet Models for .
Algorithm 1 Fast Hyperparameter Optimization Algorithm for Generating PairNet Models in Different Subspaces

A simple PairNet model selection algorithm with a random search method is given in Algorithm 2.

1:: the number of candidate PairNet models
2:the best PairNet model
4:Randomly generate subspaces for .
5:Run Algorithm 1.
6:Evaluate the performance of the newly generated PairNet model with local PairNet models for the subspaces.
7:Set the best PairNet model as the newly generated PairNet model.
8:for  to  do
9:     Randomly generate subspaces for .
10:     Run Algorithm 1.
11:     Evaluate the performance of the newly generated PairNet model.
12:     If the newly generated PairNet model is better than the best PairNet model, then the best PairNet model is the newly generated PairNet model.
13:end for
14:return the best PairNet model.
Algorithm 2 PairNet Model Selection Algorithm with Random Search

Algorithm 3, a fast incremental learning method, can quickly train a local PairNet for new real-time training data. The saved optimized hyperparameters of Eq. (14) are re-used for future real-time incremental learning. If the number of inputs is not large, then the optimized hyperparameters need small memory. Thus, the fast and memory-efficient PairNets with incremental learning are suitable for real-time on-device AIoT applications.

1:: the number of candidate PairNet models
2:the trained PairNets for real-time prediction
4:Run Algorithm 2 using to initially pre-train all local PairNets in all subspaces by using currently available training data.
5:for each new training data  do
6:     Find the appropriate subspace for .
7:     Use to solve Eq. (14) to update the hyperparameters of a local PairNet in the subspace, and save them.
8:     Create a new local PairNet with the optimized hyperparameters in the subspace.
9:end for
10:return trained local PairNets for real-time prediction.
Algorithm 3 Incremental Learning Algorithm for PairNets

Algorithm 4 shows the basic steps of using the trained PairNet for real-time prediction.

1:real-time input data
2:a predicted value
4:Find an appropriate subspace for .
5:Use the trained local PairNet in the appropriate subspace to map to a predicted value.
6:return a predicted value.
Algorithm 4 Real-time PairNet Prediction Algorithm

Performance Analysis for Real-time Time Series Prediction

Daily time series data starting on 7/1/1954 (Historical Data and Trend Chart of Effective Federal Funds Rate) were converted into 16,185 3-input-1-output training data, 50 testing data, 75 testing data, and 100 testing data. Incremental learning was done only on the testing dataset. Each daily test data became the new training data for Algorithm 3 to evaluate its performance. The inputs are 3 consecutive days’ rates, and the output is the 4th day’s rate. The range of the training data inputs is [0.13, 22.36]. A traditional ANN with incremental learning is noted as . The three-input-one-output PairNet is denoted as with subspaces, where the three inputs has intervals, intervals, and intervals. Initially, an was pre-trained by using 16,185 training data. The has two hidden layers with 50 neurons on each layer. Algorithm 3 using =200 was used to pre-train PairNets with 2, 4 and 8 subspaces by using 16,185 training data. Then, the pre-trained and the pre-trained PairNet performed daily incremental learning; they were trained by using a new daily data. Finally, the incrementally-trained predicted the next day’s rate, and Algorithm 4 was used for an appropriate local PairNet to predict the next day’s rate. Two even intervals ([0.13, 11.245] and [11.245, 22.36]) are used.

Table 1 shows the average prediction MSEs of using different training epochs, and average prediction MSEs of seven PairNets with different subspaces for testing data. Simulation results shown in Table 1 indicate that the seven PairNets have smaller average prediction MSEs than the six models. with 8 subspaces achieves all three lowest prediction MSEs.

The overall average prediction MSEs of PairNets with 2 subspaces, 4 subspaces, and 8 subspaces are 0.0612, 0.0582, and 0.0536, respectively. For this case, the more subspaces a PairNet has, the more accurate it makes predictions. More research on the relationship between the nunber of subspaces and performance of a PairNet will be done with more simulations. The overall average prediction MSE of the six models is 0.0743. Thus, the PairNets perform better than the models based on the overall average prediction MSEs.

Neural Network Epochs = 50 = 75 = 100
100 0.0708 0.0828 0.0727
200 0.0598 0.0909 0.0776
300 0.0636 0.0813 0.0694
1000 0.0609 0.0827 0.0746
2000 0.0703 0.0857 0.0847
3000 0.0621 0.0808 0.0675
1 0.0536 0.0727 0.0617
1 0.0458 0.0679 0.0579
1 0.0547 0.0728 0.0636
1 0.0478 0.0693 0.0587
1 0.0502 0.0670 0.0579
1 0.0465 0.0677 0.0588
1 0.0448 0.0624 0.0535
Table 1: Average Prediction MSEs of and PairNets

Table 2 shows the average daily training times of the six models, and those of the seven PairNets. Simulation results indicate that the seven PairNets achieve much higher speeds than the six models.

Neural Network Epochs = 50 = 75 = 100
100 0.15488 0.17605 0.17190
200 0.34944 0.34096 0.35673
300 0.59982 0.56120 0.57743
1000 1.97139 1.99363 2.04981
2000 4.05327 4.44860 3.97650
3000 6.83142 6.71835 6.38905
1 0.00083 0.00080 0.00065
1 0.00099 0.00097 0.00104
1 0.00093 0.00104 0.00064
1 0.00130 0.00062 0.00106
1 0.00129 0.00086 0.00096
1 0.00107 0.00033 0.00114
1 0.00095 0.00124 0.00056
Table 2: Average Daily Training Times (seconds)

A PairNet with 2 subspaces (, , and ), denoted as , needs 14KB memory for its hyperparameters. A PairNet with 4 subspaces (, , and ), denoted as , needs 28KB memory for its hyperparameters. needs 42KB memory for its hyperparameters. The code for a PairNet needs 19KB memory. The memory sizes of trained models with different numbers of hidden layers (50 neurons on each layer) are given in Table 3. Thus, the 3-hidden-layer PairNet is much more memory-efficient than the models. The with 50 hidden layers needs 1,867KB memory. DNNs with more than 50 hidden layers will need much bigger memory. Thus, the fast and memory-efficient PairNet is more suitable than a traditional ANN for various devices with small memory that are used in real-time AIoT on-device applications.

Neural Network Hidden Layers Memory (KB)
3 33
3 47
3 61
3 101
5 176
10 363
20 740
50 1867
Table 3: Memory Sizes of the and the PairNets


Different from slow gradient descent training algorithms and other tedious training algorithms, such as genetic algorithms, the new high-speed non-gradient-descent training algorithm with direct hyperparameter computation can quickly train the new wide and shallow 4-layer PairNet with only one epoch since its hyperparameters are directly optimized one-time via simply solving a system of linear equations by using the multivariate least squares fitting method. For AIoT applications, partitioning big data space into many small data subspaces is useful and easy to build local PairNets because having nonlinear functions on small data subspaces are simpler than having a global function on the whole big data space.

Simulation results indicate that the PairNets have smaller average prediction MSEs, and achieve much higher speeds than the ANNs for the real-time time series prediction application. Thus, it is feasible and necessary to continue to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the new shallow PairNet by developing more intelligent non-gradient-descent training algorithms for real-time AIoT applications.

Future Works

The PairNet’s performance will be compared with that of other existing techniques, such as LSTM-based recurrent neural network, and more datasets will be used. Although the PairNet is a shallow neural network since it has only four layers of neurons, it is actually a wide neural network because both the second layer and the third layer have

neurons with the first layer having

neurons. Thus, the PairNet has the curse of dimensionality. We will develop advanced divide-and-conquer methods to solve the problem.

The preliminary simulations applied an even data partitioning method to divide a whole -input space into subspaces. In the future, more intelligent space partition methods will be created to build more effective local PairNets on optimized -input data subspaces. Also, for classification problems, the new PairNet with a new activation function, such as Softmax, of the neuron on Layer 4 will be created.

Furthermore, for image classification problems, the new PairNet (for classification problems) can replace the fully connected layer of a CNN with the goal of making a fast CNN with high performance. It will be evaluated by solving commonly used benchmark classification problems using datasets like MNIST, CIFAR10, and CIFAR100.

In summary, a significant future work is to develop better and faster non-gradient-descent hyperparameter optimization algorithms to generate effective, fast and memory-efficient PairNets on optimal subspaces for real-time AIoT on-device applications.


The author would like to thank the reviewers very much for their valuable comments that help improve the quality of this paper.


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