bluelogo.gif (1643 bytes)

home page

Mean Field Networks that Learn to Discriminate Temporally Distorted Strings

Christopher Williams, Geoffrey Hinton
Department of Computer Science
University of Toronto


Neural networks can be used to discriminate between very similar phonemes and they can handle the variability in time of occurrence by using a time-delay architecture followed by a termporal integration (Land, Hinton and Waibel, 1990).  So far, however, neural networks have been less successful at handling longerduration events that require something equivalent to 'time warping' in order to match stores knowledge to the data.  We present a type of mean field network (MFN) with tied weights that is capable of approximating the recognizer for a hidden markov model (HMM).  In the process of settling to a stable state, the MFN finds a blend of likely ways of generating the input string given its internal model of the probabilities of transitions between hidden states and the probabilities of input symbols given a hidden state.  This blend is a heuristic approximation to the full set of path probabilities that is implicitly represented by an HMM recognizer.  The learning algorithm for the MFN is less efficient than for an HMM of the same size.  However, the MFN is capable of using distributed representations of the hidden state, and this can make it exponentially more efficient than an HMM when modelling strings produced by a generator that itself has componential states.  We view this type of MFN as a way of allowing more powerful representations without abandoning the automatic parameter estimation procedures that have allowed relatively simple models like HMM's to outperform complex AI representations on real tasks.

Download  [ps] [pdf]

Touretzky, D. S., Elman, J. L., Sejnowski, T. J. and Hinton, G. E. (Eds.) Connectionist Models: Proceedings of the 1990 Connectionist Summer School. Morgan Kauffman: San Mateo, CA.

[home page]  [publications]