# Tutorials¶

## Learning deep neural networks: tips and tricks¶

### Choose the learning solver¶

Generally, you should use the SGD solver with a momemtum (typical value for the momentum: 0.9). It generalizes better, often significantly better, than adaptive methods like Adam .

Adaptive solvers, like Adam, may be used for fast exploration and prototyping, thanks to their fast convergence.

### Choose the learning hyper-parameters¶

You can use the -find-lr option available in the n2d2 executable to automatically find the best learning rate for a given neural network.

Usage example:

./n2d2 model.ini -find-lr 10000


This command starts from a very low learning rate (1.0e-6) and increase it exponentially to reach the maximum value (10.0) after 10000 steps, as shown in figure [fig:findLrRange]. The loss change during this phase is then plotted in function of the learning rate, as shown in figure [fig:findLr]. Exponential increase of the learning rate over the specified number of iterations, equals to the number of steps divided by the batch size (here: 24).¶ Loss change as a function of the learning rate.¶

Note that in N2D2, the learning rate is automatically normalized by the global batch size ($$N \times \text{\lstinline!IterationSize!}$$) for the SGDSolver. A simple linear scaling rule is used, as recommanded in . The effective learning rate $$\alpha_{\text{eff}}$$ applied for parameters update is therefore:

$\alpha_{\text{eff}} = \frac{\alpha}{N \times \text{\lstinline!IterationSize!}} \text{ with \alpha = \lstinline!LearningRate!}$

Typical values for the SGDSolver are:

Solvers.LearningRate=0.01
Solvers.Decay=0.0001
Solvers.Momentum=0.9


### Convergence and normalization¶

Deep networks (> 30 layers) and especially residual networks usually don’t converge without normalization. Indeed, batch normalization is almost always used. ZeroInit is a method that can be used to overcome this issue without normalization [ZDM19].

## Building a classifier neural network¶

For this tutorial, we will use the classical MNIST handwritten digit dataset. A driver module already exists for this dataset, named MNIST_IDX_Database.

To instantiate it, just add the following lines in a new INI file:

[database]
Type=MNIST_IDX_Database
Validation=0.2 ; Use 20\% of the dataset for validation


In order to create a neural network, we first need to define its input, which is declared with a [sp] section (sp for StimuliProvider). In this section, we configure the size of the input and the batch size:

[sp]
SizeX=32
SizeY=32
BatchSize=128


We can also add pre-processing transformations to the StimuliProvider, knowing that the final data size after transformations must match the size declared in the [sp] section. Here, we must rescale the MNIST 28x28 images to match the 32x32 network input size.

[sp.Transformation_1]
Type=RescaleTransformation
Width=[sp]SizeX
Height=[sp]SizeY


Next, we declare the neural network layers. In this example, we reproduced the well-known LeNet network. The first layer is a 5x5 convolutional layer, with 6 channels. Since there is only one input channel, there will be only 6 convolution kernels in this layer.

[conv1]
Input=sp
Type=Conv
KernelWidth=5
KernelHeight=5
NbOutputs=6


The next layer is a 2x2 MAX pooling layer, with a stride of 2 (non-overlapping MAX pooling).

[pool1]
Input=conv1
Type=Pool
PoolWidth=2
PoolHeight=2
NbOutputs=[conv1]NbOutputs
Stride=2
Pooling=Max
Mapping.Size=1 ; One to one connection between input and output channels


The next layer is a 5x5 convolutional layer with 16 channels.

[conv2]
Input=pool1
Type=Conv
KernelWidth=5
KernelHeight=5
NbOutputs=16


Note that in LeNet, the [conv2] layer is not fully connected to the pooling layer. In N2D2, a custom mapping can be defined for each input connection. The connection of $$n$$-th output map to the inputs is defined by the $$n$$-th column of the matrix below, where the rows correspond to the inputs.

Mapping(pool1)=\
1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 \
1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 \
1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 \
0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 \
0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 \
0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1


Another MAX pooling and convolution layer follow:

[pool2]
Input=conv2
Type=Pool
PoolWidth=2
PoolHeight=2
NbOutputs=[conv2]NbOutputs
Stride=2
Pooling=Max
Mapping.Size=1

[conv3]
Input=pool2
Type=Conv
KernelWidth=5
KernelHeight=5
NbOutputs=120


The network is composed of two fully-connected layers of 84 and 10 neurons respectively:

[fc1]
Input=conv3
Type=Fc
NbOutputs=84

[fc2]
Input=fc1
Type=Fc
NbOutputs=10


Finally, we use a softmax layer to obtain output classification probabilities and compute the loss function.

[softmax]
Input=fc2
Type=Softmax
NbOutputs=[fc2]NbOutputs
WithLoss=1


In order to tell N2D2 to compute the error and the classification score on this softmax layer, one must attach a N2D2 Target to this layer, with a section with the same name suffixed with .Target:

[softmax.Target]


By default, the activation function for the convolution and the fully-connected layers is the hyperbolic tangent. Because the [fc2] layer is fed to a softmax, it should not have any activation function. We can specify it by adding the following line in the [fc2] section:

[fc2]
...
ActivationFunction=Linear


In order to improve further the networks performances, several things can be done:

Use ReLU activation functions. In order to do so, just add the following in the [conv1], [conv2], [conv3] and [fc1] layer sections:

ActivationFunction=Rectifier


For the ReLU activation function to be effective, the weights must be initialized carefully, in order to avoid dead units that would be stuck in the $$]-\infty,0]$$ output range before the ReLU function. In N2D2, one can use a custom WeightsFiller for the weights initialization. For the ReLU activation function, a popular and efficient filler is the so-called XavierFiller (see the [par:XavierFiller] section for more information):

WeightsFiller=XavierFiller


Use dropout layers. Dropout is highly effective to improve the network generalization capacity. Here is an example of a dropout layer inserted between the [fc1] and [fc2] layers:

[fc1]
...

[fc1.drop]
Input=fc1
Type=Dropout
NbOutputs=[fc1]NbOutputs

[fc2]
Input=fc1.drop ; Replaces "Input=fc1"
...


Tune the learning parameters. You may want to tune the learning rate and other learning parameters depending on the learning problem at hand. In order to do so, you can add a configuration section that can be common (or not) to all the layers. Here is an example of configuration section:

[conv1]
...
ConfigSection=common.config

[...]
...

[common.config]
NoBias=1
WeightsSolver.LearningRate=0.05
WeightsSolver.Decay=0.0005
Solvers.LearningRatePolicy=StepDecay
Solvers.LearningRateStepSize=[sp]_EpochSize
Solvers.LearningRateDecay=0.993
Solvers.Clamping=-1.0:1.0


For more details on the configuration parameters for the Solver, see section [sec:WeightSolvers].

Add input distortion. See for example the DistortionTransformation (section [par:DistortionTransformation]).

The complete INI model corresponding to this tutorial can be found in models/LeNet.ini.

In order to use CUDA/GPU accelerated learning, the default layer model should be switched to Frame_CUDA. You can enable this model by adding the following line at the top of the INI file (before the first section):

DefaultModel=Frame_CUDA


## Building a segmentation neural network¶

In this tutorial, we will learn how to do image segmentation with N2D2. As an example, we will implement a face detection and gender recognition neural network, using the IMDB-WIKI dataset.

First, we need to instanciate the IMDB-WIKI dataset built-in N2D2 driver:

[database]
Type=IMDBWIKI_Database
WikiSet=1 ; Use the WIKI part of the dataset
IMDBSet=0 ; Don't use the IMDB part (less accurate annotation)
Learn=0.90
Validation=0.05
DefaultLabel=background ; Label for pixels outside any ROI (default is no label, pixels are ignored)


We must specify a default label for the background, because we want to learn to differenciate faces from the background (and not simply ignore the background for the learning).

The network input is then declared:

[sp]
SizeX=480
SizeY=360
BatchSize=48
CompositeStimuli=1


In order to work with segmented data, i.e. data with bounding box annotations or pixel-wise annotations (as opposed to a single label per data), one must enable the CompositeStimuli option in the [sp] section.

We can then perform various operations on the data before feeding it to the network, like for example converting the 3-channels RGB input images to single-channel gray images:

[sp.Transformation-1]
Type=ChannelExtractionTransformation
CSChannel=Gray


We must only rescale the images to match the networks input size. This can be done using a RescaleTransformation, followed by a PadCropTransformation if one want to keep the images aspect ratio.

[sp.Transformation-2]
Type=RescaleTransformation
Width=[sp]SizeX
Height=[sp]SizeY
KeepAspectRatio=1 ; Keep images aspect ratio

; Required to ensure all the images are the same size
[sp.Transformation-3]
Width=[sp]SizeX
Height=[sp]SizeY


A common additional operation to extend the learning set is to apply random horizontal mirror to images. This can be achieved with the following FlipTransformation:

[sp.OnTheFlyTransformation-4]
Type=FlipTransformation
RandomHorizontalFlip=1
ApplyTo=LearnOnly ; Apply this transformation only on the learning set


Note that this is an on-the-fly transformation, meaning it cannot be cached and is re-executed every time even for the same stimuli. We also apply this transformation only on the learning set, with the ApplyTo option.

Next, the neural network can be described:

[conv1.1]
Input=sp
Type=Conv
...

[pool1]
...

[...]
...

[fc2]
Input=drop1
Type=Conv
...

[drop2]
Input=fc2
Type=Dropout
NbOutputs=[fc2]NbOutputs


A full network description can be found in the IMDBWIKI.ini file in the models directory of N2D2. It is a fully-CNN network.

Here we will focus on the output layers required to detect the faces and classify their gender. We start from the [drop2] layer, which has 128 channels of size 60x45.

### Faces detection¶

We want to first add an output stage for the faces detection. It is a 1x1 convolutional layer with a single 60x45 output map. For each output pixel, this layer outputs the probability that the pixel belongs to a face.

[fc3.face]
Input=drop2
Type=Conv
KernelWidth=1
KernelHeight=1
NbOutputs=1
Stride=1
ActivationFunction=LogisticWithLoss
WeightsFiller=XavierFiller
ConfigSection=common.config ; Same solver options that the other layers


In order to do so, the activation function of this layer must be of type LogisticWithLoss.

We must also tell N2D2 to compute the error and the classification score on this softmax layer, by attaching a N2D2 Target to this layer, with a section with the same name suffixed with .Target:

[fc3.face.Target]
LabelsMapping=\${N2D2_MODELS}/IMDBWIKI_target_face.dat ; Visualization parameters NoDisplayLabel=0 LabelsHueOffset=90  In this Target, we must specify how the dataset annotations are mapped to the layer’s output. This can be done in a separate file using the LabelsMapping parameter. Here, since the output layer has a single output per pixel, the target value can only be 0 or 1. A target value of -1 means that this output is ignored (no error back-propagated). Since the only annotations in the IMDB-WIKI dataset are faces, the mapping described in the IMDBWIKI_target_face.dat file is easy: # background background 0 # padding (*) is ignored (-1) * -1 # not background = face default 1  ### Gender recognition¶ We can also add a second output stage for gender recognition. Like before, it would be a 1x1 convolutional layer with a single 60x45 output map. But here, for each output pixel, this layer would output the probability that the pixel represents a female face. [fc3.gender] Input=drop2 Type=Conv KernelWidth=1 KernelHeight=1 NbOutputs=1 Stride=1 ActivationFunction=LogisticWithLoss WeightsFiller=XavierFiller ConfigSection=common.config  The output layer is therefore identical to the face’s output layer, but the target mapping is different. For the target mapping, the idea is simply to ignore all pixels not belonging to a face and affect the target 0 to male pixels and the target 1 to female pixels. [fc3.gender.Target] LabelsMapping=\${N2D2_MODELS}/IMDBWIKI_target_gender.dat
; Only display gender probability for pixels detected as face pixels


The content of the IMDBWIKI_target_gender.dat file would therefore look like:

# background
# ?-* (unknown gender)
default -1

# male gender
M-? 0   # unknown age
M-0 0
M-1 0
M-2 0
...
M-98 0
M-99 0

# female gender
F-? 1   # unknown age
F-0 1
F-1 1
F-2 1
...
F-98 1
F-99 1


### ROIs extraction¶

The next step would be to extract detected face ROIs and assign for each ROI the most probable gender. To this end, we can first set a detection threshold, in terms of probability, to select face pixels. In the following, the threshold is fixed to 75% face probability:

[post.Transformation-thres]
Input=fc3.face
Type=Transformation
NbOutputs=1
Transformation=ThresholdTransformation
Operation=ToZero
Threshold=0.75


We can then assign a target of type TargetROIs to this layer that will automatically create the bounding box using a segmentation algorithm.

[post.Transformation-thres.Target-face]
Type=TargetROIs
MinOverlap=0.33 ; Min. overlap fraction to match the ROI to an annotation
FilterMinWidth=5 ; Min. ROI width
FilterMinHeight=5 ; Min. ROI height
FilterMinAspectRatio=0.5 ; Min. ROI aspect ratio
FilterMaxAspectRatio=1.5 ; Max. ROI aspect ratio
LabelsMapping=\${N2D2_MODELS}/IMDBWIKI_target_face.dat  In order to assign a gender to the extracted ROIs, the above target must be modified to: [post.Transformation-thres.Target-gender] Type=TargetROIs ROIsLabelTarget=fc3.gender.Target MinOverlap=0.33 FilterMinWidth=5 FilterMinHeight=5 FilterMinAspectRatio=0.5 FilterMaxAspectRatio=1.5 LabelsMapping=\${N2D2_MODELS}/IMDBWIKI_target_gender.dat


Here, we use the fc3.gender.Target target to determine the most probable gender of the ROI.

### Data visualization¶

For each Target in the network, a corresponding folder is created in the simulation directory, which contains learning, validation and test confusion matrixes. The output estimation of the network for each stimulus is also generated automatically for the test dataset and can be visualized with the ./test.py helper tool. An example is shown in figure [fig:targetvisu].

## Transcoding a learned network in spike-coding¶

N2D2 embeds an event-based simulator (historically known as ’Xnet’) and allows to transcode a whole DNN in a spike-coding version and evaluate the resulting spiking neural network performances. In this tutorial, we will transcode the LeNet network described in section [sec:BuildingClassifierNN].

### Render the network compatible with spike simulations¶

The first step is to specify that we want to use a transcode model (allowing both formal and spike simulation of the same network), by changing the DefaultModel to:

DefaultModel=Transcode_CUDA


In order to perform spike simulations, the input of the network must be of type Environment, which is a derived class of StimuliProvider that adds spike coding support. In the INI model file, it is therefore necessary to replace the [sp] section by an [env] section and replace all references of sp to env.

Note that these changes have at this point no impact at all on the formal coding simulations. The beginning of the INI file should be:

DefaultModel=!\color{red}{Transcode\_CUDA}!

; Database
[database]
Type=MNIST_IDX_Database
Validation=0.2 ; Use 20% of the dataset for validation

; Environment
[!\color{red}{env}!]
SizeX=32
SizeY=32
BatchSize=128

[env.Transformation_1]
Type=RescaleTransformation
Width=[!\color{red}{env}!]SizeX
Height=[!\color{red}{env}!]SizeY

[conv1]
Input=!\color{red}{env}!
...


The dropout layer has no equivalence in spike-coding inference and must be removed:

...
!\color{red}{\st{[fc1.drop]}}!
!\color{red}{\st{Input=fc1}}!
!\color{red}{\st{Type=Dropout}}!
!\color{red}{\st{NbOutputs=[fc1]NbOutputs}}!

[fc2]
Input=fc1!\color{red}{\st{.drop}}!
...


The softmax layer has no equivalence in spike-coding inference and must be removed as well. The Target must therefore be attached to [fc2]:

...
!\color{red}{\st{[softmax]}}!
!\color{red}{\st{Input=fc2}}!
!\color{red}{\st{Type=Softmax}}!
!\color{red}{\st{NbOutputs=[fc2]NbOutputs}}!
!\color{red}{\st{WithLoss=1}}!

!\color{red}{\st{[softmax.Target]}}!

[fc2.Target]
...


The network is now compatible with spike-coding simulations. However, we did not specify at this point how to translate the input stimuli data into spikes, nor the spiking neuron parameters (threshold value, leak time constant…).

### Configure spike-coding parameters¶

The first step is to configure how the input stimuli data must be coded into spikes. To this end, we must attach a configuration section to the Environment. Here, we specify a periodic coding with random initial jitter with a minimum period of 10 ns and a maximum period of 100 us:

...
ConfigSection=env.config

[env.config]
; Spike-based computing
StimulusType=JitteredPeriodic
PeriodMin=1,000,000 ; unit = fs
PeriodMeanMin=10,000,000 ; unit = fs
PeriodMeanMax=100,000,000,000 ; unit = fs
PeriodRelStdDev=0.0


The next step is to specify the neurons parameters, that will be common to all layers and can therefore be specified in the [common.config] section. In N2D2, the base spike-coding layers use a Leaky Integrate-and-Fire (LIF) neuron model. By default, the leak time constant is zero, resulting to simple Integrate-and-Fire (IF) neurons.

Here we simply specify that the neurons threshold must be the unity, that the threshold is only positive and that there is no incoming synaptic delay:

...
; Spike-based computing
Threshold=1.0
BipolarThreshold=0
IncomingDelay=0


Finally, we can limit the number of spikes required for the computation of each stimulus by adding a decision delta threshold at the output layer:

...
ConfigSection=common.config,fc2.config

[fc2.Target]

[fc2.config]
; Spike-based computing
TerminateDelta=4
BipolarThreshold=1


The complete INI model corresponding to this tutorial can be found in models/LeNet_Spike.ini.

Here is a summary of the steps required to reproduce the whole experiment:

./n2d2 "\$N2D2_MODELS/LeNet.ini" -learn 6000000 -log 100000 ./n2d2 "\$N2D2_MODELS/LeNet_Spike.ini" -test


The final recognition rate reported at the end of the spike inference should be almost identical to the formal coding network (around 99% for the LeNet network).

Various statistics are available at the end of the spike-coding simulation in the stats_spike folder and the stats_spike.log file. Looking in the stats_spike.log file, one can read the following line towards the end of the file:

Read events per virtual synapse per pattern (average): 0.654124


This line reports the average number of accumulation operations per synapse per input stimulus in the network. If this number if below 1.0, it means that the spiking version of the network is more efficient than its formal counterpart in terms of total number of operations!