the Wake-Sleep Algorithm for Unsupervised Neural Networks

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Introduction

In considering general learning procedures, supervised methods for neural networks are limited in that they can only be executed in specifically-structured environments. For these systems to learn, the environment must be equipped with an external "teacher" providing the network with explicit feedback on its predictive performance. From there, the system needs a means for circulating this error information across the entire network, so that the weights can be adjusted accordingly. To apply neural networks in contexts not satisfying these specific requirements, the authors purpose the wake-sleep algorithm, a two-phase procedure in which each network layer effectively learns representations of the activity in adjacent hidden layers. Here, the network is composed of feed-forward "recognition" connections used to generate an internal representation of the input, and feed-back generative connections used to produce an estimated reconstruction of the original input based on this learned internal representation. The goal is to learn an efficient representation which accurately characterizes the input to the system.