Kanerva++ at ICLR21

The ICLR21 conference is still a few weeks away but to wet your appetite already, we are glad to let you know that Jason Ramapuram will be presenting a poster about his new paper Kanerva++: Extending the Kanerva Machine With Differentiable, Locally Block Allocated Latent Memory. The paper is a result of a successful collaboration with Yan Wu from Deepmind.


Episodic and semantic memory are critical components of the human memory model. The theory of complementary learning systems (McClelland et al., 1995) suggests that the compressed representation produced by a serial event (episodic memory) is later restructured to build a more generalized form of reusable knowledge (semantic memory). In this work, we develop a new principled Bayesian memory allocation scheme that bridges the gap between episodic and semantic memory via a hierarchical latent variable model. We take inspiration from traditional heap allocation and extend the idea of locally contiguous memory to the Kanerva Machine, enabling a novel differentiable block allocated latent memory. In contrast to the Kanerva Machine, we simplify the process of memory writing by treating it as a fully feed forward deterministic process, relying on the stochasticity of the read key distribution to disperse information within the memory. We demonstrate that this allocation scheme improves performance in conditional image generation, resulting in new state-of-the-art likelihood values on binarized MNIST (≤41.58 nats/image) , binarized Omniglot (≤66.24 nats/image), as well as presenting competitive performance on CIFAR10, DMLab Mazes, Celeb-A and ImageNet32×32.

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