Loughborough University
Thesis-2012-Marsden.pdf (5.71 MB)

Nonlinear dynamics of pattern recognition and optimization

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posted on 2012-10-16, 10:23 authored by Christopher J. Marsden
We associate learning in living systems with the shaping of the velocity vector field of a dynamical system in response to external, generally random, stimuli. We consider various approaches to implement a system that is able to adapt the whole vector field, rather than just parts of it - a drawback of the most common current learning systems: artificial neural networks. This leads us to propose the mathematical concept of self-shaping dynamical systems. To begin, there is an empty phase space with no attractors, and thus a zero velocity vector field. Upon receiving the random stimulus, the vector field deforms and eventually becomes smooth and deterministic, despite the random nature of the applied force, while the phase space develops various geometrical objects. We consider the simplest of these - gradient self-shaping systems, whose vector field is the gradient of some energy function, which under certain conditions develops into the multi-dimensional probability density distribution of the input. We explain how self-shaping systems are relevant to artificial neural networks. Firstly, we show that they can potentially perform pattern recognition tasks typically implemented by Hopfield neural networks, but without any supervision and on-line, and without developing spurious minima in the phase space. Secondly, they can reconstruct the probability density distribution of input signals, like probabilistic neural networks, but without the need for new training patterns to have to enter the network as new hardware units. We therefore regard self-shaping systems as a generalisation of the neural network concept, achieved by abandoning the "rigid units - flexible couplings'' paradigm and making the vector field fully flexible and amenable to external force. It is not clear how such systems could be implemented in hardware, and so this new concept presents an engineering challenge. It could also become an alternative paradigm for the modelling of both living and learning systems. Mathematically it is interesting to find how a self shaping system could develop non-trivial objects in the phase space such as periodic orbits or chaotic attractors. We investigate how a delayed vector field could form such objects. We show that this method produces chaos in a class systems which have very simple dynamics in the non-delayed case. We also demonstrate the coexistence of bounded and unbounded solutions dependent on the initial conditions and the value of the delay. Finally, we speculate about how such a method could be used in global optimization.



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© Christopher J. Marsden

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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