Wave physics as an analog recurrent neural network

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Science Advances  20 Dec 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 12, eaay6946
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay6946


Analog machine learning hardware platforms promise to be faster and more energy efficient than their digital counterparts. Wave physics, as found in acoustics and optics, is a natural candidate for building analog processors for time-varying signals. Here, we identify a mapping between the dynamics of wave physics and the computation in recurrent neural networks. This mapping indicates that physical wave systems can be trained to learn complex features in temporal data, using standard training techniques for neural networks. As a demonstration, we show that an inverse-designed inhomogeneous medium can perform vowel classification on raw audio signals as their waveforms scatter and propagate through it, achieving performance comparable to a standard digital implementation of a recurrent neural network. These findings pave the way for a new class of analog machine learning platforms, capable of fast and efficient processing of information in its native domain.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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