Energy-efficient Neuromorphic Computing for Resource-constrained Internet of Things Devices

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Virginia Tech

Due to the limited computation and storage resources of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, many emerging intelligent applications based on deep learning techniques heavily depend on cloud computing for computation and storage. However, cloud computing faces technical issues with long latency, poor reliability, and weak privacy, resulting in the need for on-device computation and storage. Also, on-device computation is essential for many time-critical applications, which require real-time data processing and energy-efficient. Furthermore, the escalating requirements for on-device processing are driven by network bandwidth limitations and consumer anticipations concerning data privacy and user experience. In the realm of computing, there is a growing interest in exploring novel technologies that can facilitate ongoing advancements in performance. Of the various prospective avenues, the field of neuromorphic computing has garnered significant recognition as a crucial means to achieve fast and energy-efficient machine intelligence applications for IoT devices. The programming of neuromorphic computing hardware typically involves the construction of a spiking neural network (SNN) capable of being deployed onto the designated neuromorphic hardware. This dissertation presents a range of methodologies aimed at enhancing the precision and energy efficiency of SNNs. To be more precise, these advancements are achieved by incorporating four essential methods. The first method is the quantization of neural networks through knowledge distillation. This work introduces a quantization technique that effectively reduces the computational and storage resource requirements of a model while minimizing the loss of accuracy. To further enhance the reduction of quantization errors, the second method introduces a novel quantization-aware training algorithm specifically designed for training quantized spiking neural network (SNN) models intended for execution on the Loihi chip, a specialized neuromorphic computing chip. SNNs generally exhibit lower accuracy performance compared to deep neural networks (DNNs). The third approach introduces a DNN-SNN co-learning algorithm, which enhances the performance of SNN models by leveraging knowledge obtained from DNN models. The design of the neural architecture plays a vital role in enhancing the accuracy and energy efficiency of an SNN model. The fourth method presents a novel neural architecture search algorithm specifically tailored for SNNs on the Loihi chip. The method selects an optimal architecture based on gradients induced by the architecture at initialization across different data samples without the need for training the architecture. To demonstrate the effectiveness and performance across diverse machine intelligence applications, our methods are evaluated through (i) image classification, (ii) spectrum sensing, and (iii) modulation symbol detection.

Quantization, Quantization-aware training, Deep learning, machine learning, Knowledge distillation, Neural networks, Spiking neural networks