CCN Seminar with Leo Kozachkov

Date & Time


160 Fifth Avenue, 4th Floor Classroom

CCN community members are cordially invited to a CCN Seminar with Leo Kozachkov, doctoral candidate, MIT. To schedule an appointment with Leo during his visit, please be in touch with Noah Dlugacz at

Title: Improving the Stability, Modularity, and Brain-Similarity of Recurrent Neural Networks via Contraction Analysis

Abstract: The brain consists of many interconnected networks, each with time-varying and complex dynamics. Despite this, neural activity tends to converge to reproducible sequences of states. How the brain achieves these complex-yet-stable dynamics is unknown. We address this problem using contraction analysis: a set of tools from the dynamical systems and control theory literature. Loosely, a contracting dynamical
system is one whose trajectories converge towards a common—potentially time-varying and complicated—trajectory. We apply contraction analysis to recurrent neural networks (RNNs), as well as RNNs of RNNs, to derive constraints on synaptic plasticity rules and weight matrices such that the resulting models are provably contracting. By parametrizing these constraints for optimization in standard deep learning libraries, we show that contraction-constrained networks achieve high performance on sequential processing benchmark tasks (e.g., sequential CIFAR-10), as well as high similarity with
frontal lobe neural activity recorded from a behaving non-human primate. Our
work—both theoretical and experimental—suggests that stability-constrained recurrent architectures yield promising models of neural activity as the scope of experimental neuroscience expands into studying multiple dynamic, interacting brain areas.

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