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Title: Hardware neural systems for applications : a pulsed analog approach
Author: Jackson, Geoffrey Bruce
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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In recent years the considerable interest in the biologically inspired computational paradigm of artificial neural networks has led to a drive to realise these structures as VLSI hardware. At Edinburgh University research has focused on pulse stream neural networks in which neural states are encoded in the time domain as a stream of digital pulses. To date research centred on developing analog CMOS circuits to implement neural functions. In this thesis these circuits are developed and higher, system level issues addressed in order to produce a neural network system suited to use in real-world applications. To discover the key requirements for use in real-world applications, examples of application based hardware systems are reviewed, as is the field of pulse stream neural networks. These requirements led to the design of a VLSI chip, EPSILON II; a pulse stream neural chip optimised for use on the boundary of the analog domain of the real-world and the digital domain of conventional computing. The EPSILON processor card (EPC) places this chip in a system level framework that oversees chip operation and provides the interfaces to analog signals, a standard digital bus and other EPCs. The system level approach taken provides a versatile platform for prototyping applications while operating with minimal host supervision. To demonstrate the versatility of this approach several applications were developed that utilised this hardware. Foremost amongst these was an autonomous mobile robot that utilises the analog nature of the hardware to provide a direct interface to real-world sensors. Also presented are a series of experiments investigating back-propagation learning on a variety of MLP problems. This study reveals the limits and practicalities of training hardware neural networks, in particular the effects of limited weight dynamic range were found to be of primary importance. From this work conclusions are drawn as to the effectiveness and future development of hardware neural computation; specifically the ability to interface to the analog domain and the issues involved in interfacing to conventional computing devices are highlighted.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available