Stochastic arrays and learning networks
This thesis presents a study of stochastic arrays and learning networks. These arrays will be shown to consist of simple elements utilising probabilistic coding techniques which may interact with a random and noisy environment to produce useful results. Such networks have generated considerable interest since it is possible to design large parallel self-organising arrays of these elements which are trained by example rather than explicit instruction. Once the learning process has been completed, they then have the potential ability to form generalisations, perform global optimisation of traditionally difficult problems such as routing and incorporate an associative memory capability which can enable such tasks as image recognition and reconstruction to be performed, even when given a partial or noisy view of the target. Since the method of operation of such elements is thought to emulate the basic properties of the neurons of the brain, these arrays have been termed neural 'networks. The research demonstrates the use of stochastic elements for digital signal processing by presenting a novel systolic array, utilising a simple, replicated cell structure, which is shown to perform the operations of Cyclic Correlation and the Discrete Fourier Transform on inherently random and noisy probabilistic single bit inputs. This work is then extended into the field of stochastic learning automata and to neural networks by examining the Associative Reward-Punish (A(_R-P)) pattern recognising learning automaton. The thesis concludes that all the networks described may potentially be generalised to simple variations of one standard probabilistic element utilising stochastic coding, whose properties resemble those of biological neurons. A novel study is presented which describes how a powerful deterministic algorithm, previously considered to be biologically unviable due to its nature, may be represented in this way. It is expected that combinations of these methods may lead to a series of useful hybrid techniques for training networks. The nature of the element generalisation is particularly important as it reveals the potential for encoding successful algorithms in cheap, simple hardware with single bit interconnections. No claim is made that the particular algorithms described are those actually utilised by the brain, only to demonstrate that those properties observed of biological neurons are capable of endowing collective computational ability and that actual biological algorithms may perhaps then become apparent when viewed in this light.