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Enabling Spiking Neuromorphic Computation with On‐Board Learning Through Algorithm and Hardware Co‐design

Assistant Professor Shaowei Lin

Singapore University of Technology and Design

Project Description

As AI becomes more prevalent in everyday applications, there is a need for new algorithms and dedicated chips that allow for low‐power,
reliable and fast computing. In this project, we tackle this challenge by taking inspiration from spiking neural networks in nature. We take a
distributed and biologically plausible learning rule that our team discovered recently, and computationally simulate its behaviour on networks involving new electrical components known as memristors. The novelty of our approach lies in the simplicity of our learning rule, its powerful ability to learn sequences and time series, and its robustness to hardware errors and noise in the training signals.

Research Technical Areas

Cognitive modelling and systems

Machine learning

Neuromorphic computing

Benefits to the society

When the power consumption of AI chips become low enough to be embedded in mobile phones, sensors and household appliances, we will start to see an exponential explosion in the variety of ways that these devices serve us and communicate with us. For instance, our microwaves and refrigerators will be smart enough to understand our speech without sending the audio data to the cloud for processing.

Team's Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor Shaowei Lin
Engineering Systems and Design Pillar
Singapore University of Technology and Design

Principal Investigator’s Core Research Technical Areas

  • Cognitive modelling and systems
  • Knowledge representation and reasoning
  • Machine learning

Introduction of the Principal Investigator

Shaowei received his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2011 from the University of California, Berkeley, where he analyzed singularities in statistical models over large data sets through the lens of modern algebraic geometry. This work was continued at Stanford University in a one‐year DARPA postdoctoral collaboration with Andrew Ng to explore mathematical challenges in deep learning. In 2012, he returned to Singapore to start the Sense‐making Group in the Sense and Sense‐abilities programme in A*STAR. The group focused on exploiting deep learning techniques in sensor systems to enable intelligence at the edge of the network. In 2016, Shaowei joined SUTD where he crystallized his ideas for Distributed Artificial Intelligence. His research focuses on biologically plausible local learning rules for spiking neural networks based on path integrals in statistical physics, and on hierarchical geometric inference rules for scalable machine reasoning based on homotopy type theory. In 2017, he spent six months as a
visiting professor in Tomaso Poggio’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines at MIT. Shaowei is currently an assistant professor in the Engineering Systems and Design pillar at SUTD.

Recent Notable Awards

  • 2015 MTI Borderless Silver Award MTI
  • 2014 Finalist at World Smart Cities Award
  • 2014 A*STAR TALENT Award


Co-Principal Investigator

Assc Prof. Zhao Rong

Singapore University of Technology and Design

Research Areas:

  1. Neuromorphic device and chip


Wang Chao, Senior Research Fellow, SUTD

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