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2 Janelia Publications

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    06/12/18 | A connectome based hexagonal lattice convolutional network model of the Drosophila visual system.
    Tschopp FD, Reiser MB, Turaga SC
    arXiv. 2018 Jun 12:1806.04793

    What can we learn from a connectome? We constructed a simplified model of the first two stages of the fly visual system, the lamina and medulla. The resulting hexagonal lattice convolutional network was trained using backpropagation through time to perform object tracking in natural scene videos. Networks initialized with weights from connectome reconstructions automatically discovered well-known orientation and direction selectivity properties in T4 neurons and their inputs, while networks initialized at random did not. Our work is the first demonstration, that knowledge of the connectome can enable in silico predictions of the functional properties of individual neurons in a circuit, leading to an understanding of circuit function from structure alone.

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    05/28/18 | Discrete flow posteriors for variational inference in discrete dynamical systems.
    Aitchison L, Adam V, Turaga SC
    arXiv. 2018 May 28:1805.10958

    Each training step for a variational autoencoder (VAE) requires us to sample from the approximate posterior, so we usually choose simple (e.g. factorised) approximate posteriors in which sampling is an efficient computation that fully exploits GPU parallelism. However, such simple approximate posteriors are often insufficient, as they eliminate statistical dependencies in the posterior. While it is possible to use normalizing flow approximate posteriors for continuous latents, some problems have discrete latents and strong statistical dependencies. The most natural approach to model these dependencies is an autoregressive distribution, but sampling from such distributions is inherently sequential and thus slow. We develop a fast, parallel sampling procedure for autoregressive distributions based on fixed-point iterations which enables efficient and accurate variational inference in discrete state-space latent variable dynamical systems. To optimize the variational bound, we considered two ways to evaluate probabilities: inserting the relaxed samples directly into the pmf for the discrete distribution, or converting to continuous logistic latent variables and interpreting the K-step fixed-point iterations as a normalizing flow. We found that converting to continuous latent variables gave considerable additional scope for mismatch between the true and approximate posteriors, which resulted in biased inferences, we thus used the former approach. Using our fast sampling procedure, we were able to realize the benefits of correlated posteriors, including accurate uncertainty estimates for one cell, and accurate connectivity estimates for multiple cells, in an order of magnitude less time.

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