# Laurenz WiskottRuhr-Universität Bochum | RUB · Institut für Neuroinformatik

Laurenz Wiskott

Prof. Dr.

## About

182

Publications

21,813

Reads

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12,260

Citations

Introduction

To make navigation easier I have created project pages of my research themes (projects with all upper case titles) and pages for individual research projects (projects with normal case titles and years), click [top] Contributions -> [right] Projects.

Additional affiliations

November 2008 - present

December 2006 - October 2008

November 2000 - November 2006

Education

November 1990 - November 1995

**Institut für Neuroinformatik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum**

Field of study

- Computer Vision, Computational Neuroscience

April 1989 - September 1990

September 1985 - March 1989

## Publications

Publications (182)

The developing visual system of many mammalian species is partially structured and organized even before the onset of vision. Spontaneous neural activity, which spreads in waves across the retina, has been suggested to play a major role in these prenatal structuring processes. Recently, it has been shown that when employing an efficient coding stra...

Invariant features of temporally varying signals are useful for analysis and classification. Slow feature analysis (SFA) is a new method for learning invariant or slowly varying features from a vectorial input signal. It is based on a nonlinear expansion of the input signal and application of principal component analysis to this expanded signal and...

Many studies have suggested that episodic memory is a generative process, but most computational models adopt a storage view. In this article, we present a model of the generative aspects of episodic memory. It is based on the central hypothesis that the hippocampus stores and retrieves selected aspects of an episode as a memory trace, which is nec...

A bstract
Episodic memory has been studied extensively in the past few decades, but so far little is understood about how it is used to affect behavior. Here we postulate three learning paradigms: one-shot learning, replay learning, and online learning, where in the first two paradigms episodic memory is retrieved for decision-making or replayed to...

Many different studies have suggested that episodic memory is a generative process, but most computational models adopt a storage view. In this work, we propose a computational model for generative episodic memory. It is based on the central hypothesis that the hippocampus stores and retrieves selected aspects of an episode as a memory trace, which...

In a multi-task reinforcement learning setting, the learner commonly benefits from training on multiple related tasks by exploiting similarities among them. At the same time, the trained agent is able to solve a wider range of different problems. While this effect is well documented for model-free multi-task methods, we demonstrate a detrimental ef...

One of the fundamental challenges in reinforcement learning (RL) is the one of data efficiency: modern algorithms require a very large number of training samples, especially compared to humans, for solving environments with high-dimensional observations. The severity of this problem is increased when the reward signal is sparse. In this work, we pr...

The context-dependence of extinction learning has been well studied and requires the hippocampus. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are still poorly understood. Using memory-driven reinforcement learning and deep neural networks, we developed a model that learns to navigate autonomously in biologically realistic virtual reality environments...

A Sturm-Liouville problem ($\lambda wy=(ry')'+qy$) is singular if its domain is unbounded or if $r$ or $w$ vanish at the boundary. Then it is difficult to tell whether profound results from regular Sturm-Liouville theory apply. Existing criteria are often difficult to apply, e.g. because they are formulated in terms of the solution function. We stu...

Many problems in machine learning can be expressed by means of a graph with nodes representing training samples and edges representing the relationship between samples in terms of similarity, temporal proximity, or label information. Graphs can in turn be represented by matrices. A special example is the Laplacian matrix, which allows us to assign...

We propose a meta-learning framework to distribute Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning (DMAML), a widely used meta-learning algorithm, over multiple workers running in parallel. DMAML enables us to use multiple servers for learning and might be crucial if we want to tackle more challenging problems that often require more CPU time for simulation. In this...

Deeply-learned planning methods are often based on learning representations that are optimized for unrelated tasks. For example, they might be trained on reconstructing the environment. These representations are then combined with predictor functions for simulating rollouts to navigate the environment. We find this principle of learning representat...

Cover legend: The cover image is based on the Research Article Improving sensory representations using episodic memory by Richard Görler et al, https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.23186.

Slow feature analysis (SFA) is an unsupervised-learning algorithm that
extracts slowly varying features from a multi-dimensional time series. A
supervised extension to SFA for classification and regression is graph-based
SFA (GSFA). GSFA is based on the preservation of similarities, which are
specified by a graph structure derived from the labels....

The context-dependence of extinction learning has been well studied and requires the hippocampus. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are still poorly understood. Using memory-driven reinforcement learning and deep neural networks, we developed a model that learns to navigate autonomously in biologically realistic VR environments based on raw...

The medial temporal lobe (MTL) is well known to be essential for declarative memory. However, a growing body of research suggests that MTL structures might be involved in perceptual processes as well. Our previous modeling work suggests that sensory representations in cortex influence the accuracy of episodic memory retrieved from the MTL. We adopt...

Many problems in machine learning can be expressed by means of a graph with nodes representing training samples and edges representing the relationship between samples in terms of similarity, temporal proximity, or label information. Graphs can in turn be represented by matrices. A special example is the Laplacian matrix, which allows us to assign...

Several methods of estimating the mutual information of random variables have been developed in recent years. They can prove valuable for novel approaches to learning statistically independent features. In this paper, we use one of these methods, a mutual information neural estimation (MINE) network, to present a proof-of-concept of how a neural ne...

In this paper, we propose a new experimental protocol and use it to benchmark the data efficiency --- performance as a function of training set size --- of two deep learning algorithms, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and hierarchical information-preserving graph-based slow feature analysis (HiGSFA), for tasks in classification and transfer le...

We present a computational model based on the CRISP theory (Content Representation, Intrinsic Sequences, and Pattern completion) of the hippocampus that allows to continuously store pattern sequences online in a one-shot fashion. Rather than storing a sequence in CA3, CA3 provides a pre-trained sequence that is hetero-associated with the input sequ...

In this work we propose Hebbian-descent as a biologically plausible learning rule for hetero-associative as well as auto-associative learning in single layer artificial neural networks. It can be used as a replacement for gradient descent as well as Hebbian learning, in particular in online learning, as it inherits their advantages while not suffer...

Several methods of estimating the mutual information of random variables have been developed in recent years. They can prove valuable for novel approaches to learning statistically independent features. In this paper, we use one of these methods, a mutual information neural estimation (MINE) network, to present a proof-of-concept of how a neural ne...

In this paper, we propose a new experimental protocol and use it to benchmark the data efficiency-performance as a function of training set size-of two deep learning algorithms, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and hierarchical information-preserving graph-based slow feature analysis (HiGSFA), for tasks in classification and transfer learning s...

Poster for "Measuring the Data Efficiency of Deep Learning Methods"

Several methods of estimating the mutual information of random variables have been developed in recent years. They can prove valuable for novel approaches to learning statistically independent features. In this paper, we use one of these methods, a mutual information neural estimation (MINE) network, to present a proof-of-concept of how a neural ne...

Data to reproduce the visual experiments from the paper (code available separately).

Code to reproduce the experiments from the paper (datasets available as separate downloads).

Data to reproduce the auditory experiments from the paper (code available separately).

Episodic memories have been suggested to be represented by neuronal sequences, which are stored and retrieved from the hippocampal circuit. A special difficulty is that realistic neuronal sequences are strongly correlated with each other since computational memory models generally perform poorly when correlated patterns are stored. Here, we study i...

This paper proposes Power Slow Feature Analysis, a gradient-based method to extract temporally-slow features from a high-dimensional input stream that varies on a faster time-scale, and a variant of Slow Feature Analysis (SFA). While displaying performance comparable to hierarchical extensions to the SFA algorithm, such as Hierarchical Slow Feature...

Extended Predictable Feature Analysis (PFAx) [Richthofer and Wiskott, 2017] is an extension of PFA [Richthofer and Wiskott, 2015] that allows generating a goal-directed control signal of an agent whose dynamics has previously been learned during a training phase in an unsupervised manner. PFAx hardly requires assumptions or prior knowledge of the a...

The computational principles of slowness and predictability have been proposed to describe aspects of information processing in the visual system. From the perspective of slowness being a limited special case of predictability we investigate the relationship between these two principles empirically. On a collection of real-world data sets we compar...

The experimental evidence on the interrelation between episodic memory and semantic memory is currently inconclusive. Are they independent systems, different aspects of a single system, or separate, but strongly interacting, systems? Here, we propose a computational role of the interaction between the semantic and episodic systems that might help r...

Predictable Feature Analysis (PFA) (Richthofer, Wiskott, ICMLA 2015) is an algorithm that performs dimensionality reduction on high dimensional input signal. It extracts those subsignals that are most predictable according to a certain prediction model. We refer to these extracted signals as predictable features. In this work we extend the notion o...

We propose graph-based predictable feature analysis (GPFA), a new method for unsupervised learning of predictable features from high-dimensional time series, where high predictability is understood very generically as low variance in the distribution of the next data point given the previous ones. We show how this measure of predictability can be u...

Spatial encoding in the hippocampus is based on a range of different input sources. To generate spatial representations, reliable sensory cues from the external environment are integrated with idiothetic cues, derived from self-movement, that enable path integration and directional perception. In this study, we examined to what extent idiothetic cu...

We present a theoretical analysis of Gaussian-binary restricted Boltzmann machines (GRBMs) from the perspective of density models. The key aspect of this analysis is to show that GRBMs can be formulated as a constrained mixture of Gaussians, which gives a much better insight into the model’s capabilities and limitations. We further show that GRBMs...

A compact information-rich representation of the environment, also called a feature abstraction, can simplify a robot's task of mapping its raw sensory inputs to useful action sequences. However, in environments that are non-stationary and only partially observable, a single abstraction is probably not sufficient to encode most variations. Therefor...

This work analyzes centered Restricted Boltzmann Machines (RBMs) and centered Deep
Boltzmann Machines (DBMs), where centering is done by subtracting o set values from
visible and hidden variables. We show analytically that (i) centered and normal Boltz-
mann Machines (BMs) and thus RBMs and DBMs are di erent parameterizations of the
same model clas...

Slow feature analysis (SFA) is an unsupervised learning algorithm that extracts slowly varying features from a multi-dimensional time series. Graph-based SFA (GSFA) is an extension to SFA for supervised learning that can be used to successfully solve regression problems if combined with a simple supervised post-processing step on a small number of...

Every organism in an environment, whether biological, robotic or virtual, must be able to predict certain aspects of its environment in order to survive or perform whatever task is intended. It needs a model that is capable of estimating the consequences of possible actions, so that planning, control, and decision-making become feasible. For scient...

What are the computational laws of hippocampal activity? In this paper we argue for the slowness principle as a fundamental processing paradigm behind hippocampal place cell firing. We present six different studies from the experimental literature, performed with real-life rats, that we replicated in computer simulations. Each of the chosen studies...

In the last decades a standard model regarding the function of the hippocampus in memory formation has been established and tested computationally. It has been argued that the CA3 region works as an auto-associative memory and that its recurrent fibers are the actual storing place of the memories. Furthermore, to work properly CA3 requires memory p...

Effective spatial navigation is enabled by reliable reference cues that derive from sensory information from the external environment, as well as from internal sources such as the vestibular system. The integration of information from these sources enables dead reckoning in the form of path integration. Navigation in the dark is associated with the...

Any non-trivial agent (biological or algorithmical) that interacts with its environment needs some representation about its current state. Such a state should enable it to make informed decisions that lead to some desired outcome in the future. In practice, many learning algorithms assume states to come from a discrete set while real-world learning...

Elastic Bunch Graph Matching (EBGM) is an extension to elastic graph matching for object classes with a common structure, such as faces in identical pose. All instances of such a class are represented by the same type of graph. From these graphs a bunch graph of same structure is created, with the nodes representing local textures of any object in...

We present and test an extension of slow feature analysis as a novel approach to nonlinear blind source separation. The algorithm relies on temporal correlations and iteratively reconstructs a set of statistically independent sources from arbitrary nonlinear instantaneous mixtures. Simulations show that it is able to invert a complicated nonlinear...

Spontaneous cortical activity -- the ongoing cortical activities in absence
of sensory input -- are considered to play a vital role in many aspects of both
normal brain functions and mental dysfunctions. We present a centered
Gaussian-binary deep Boltzmann machine (GDBM) for modeling the activity in
visual cortex and relate the random sampling in D...

Supervised learning from high-dimensional data, for example, multimedia data, is a challenging task. We propose an extension of slow feature analysis (SFA) for supervised dimensionality reduction called graph-based SFA (GSFA). The algorithm extracts a label-predictive low-dimensional set of features that can be post-processed by typical supervised...

The hippocampal network produces sequences of neural activity even when there is no time-varying external drive. In offline states, the temporal sequence in which place cells fire spikes correlates with the sequence of their place fields. Recent experiments found this correlation even between offline sequential activity (OSA) recorded before the an...

Every organism in an environment, whether biological, robotic or virtual,
must be able to predict certain aspects of its environment in order to survive
or perform whatever task is intended. It needs a model that is capable of
estimating the consequences of possible actions, so that planning, control, and
decision-making become feasible. For scient...

It has recently been shown that subtracting the mean from the visible as well
as the hidden variables of deep Boltzmann machines leads to better conditioned
optimization problems and improves some aspects of model performance. In this
work we analyze binary restricted Boltzmann machines, where centering is done
by subtracting offset values from vis...

Data processing is a ubiquitous task in scientific research, and much energy is spent on the development of appropriate algorithms. It is thus relatively easy to find software implementations of the most common methods. On the other hand, when building concrete applications, developers are often confronted with several additional chores that need t...

Computational modeling of the primate visual system yields insights of potential relevance to some of the challenges that computer vision is facing, such as object recognition and categorization, motion detection and activity recognition, or vision-based navigation and manipulation. This paper reviews some functional principles and structures that...

In this paper we present the RatLab toolkit, a software framework designed to set up and simulate a wide range of studies targeting the encoding of space in rats. It provides open access to our modeling approach to establish place and head direction cells within unknown environments and it offers a set of parameters to allow for the easy constructi...

We generalize the method of Slow Feature Analysis (SFA) for vector-valued functions of several variables and apply it to the problem of blind source separation, in particular to image separation. It is generally necessary to use multivariate SFA instead of univariate SFA for separating multi-dimensional signals. For the linear case, an exact mathem...

Slow Feature Analysis (SFA) is an unsupervised learning algorithm based on the slowness principle and has originally been developed to learn invariances in a model of the primate visual system. Although developed for computational neuroscience, SFA has turned out to be a versatile algorithm also for technical applications since it can be used for f...

A Gaussian-binary restricted Boltzmann machine is a widely used energy-based model for continuous data distributions, although many authors reported difficulties in training on natural images. To clarify the model's capabilities and limitations we derive a rewritten formula of the probability density function as a linear superposition of Gaussians....

Slow Feature Analysis (SFA) is a feature extraction algorithm based on the slowness principle with applications to both supervised and unsupervised learning. When implemented hierarchically, it allows for efficient processing of high-dimensional data, such as images. Expansion plays a crucial role in the implementation of non-linear SFA. In this pa...

We generalize the method of Slow Feature Analysis for vector-valued functions of multivariables and apply it to the problem of blind source separation, in particular image separation. For the linear case, exact mathematical analysis is given, which shows in particular that the sources are perfectly separated by SFA if and only if they and their fir...

Primates are very good at recognizing objects independent of viewing angle or retinal position, and they outperform existing computer vision systems by far. But invariant object recognition is only one prerequisite for successful interaction with the environment. An animal also needs to assess an object's position and relative rotational angle. We...

We develop a group-theoretical analysis of slow feature analysis for the case where the input data are generated by applying a set of continuous transformations to static templates. As an application of the theory, we analytically derive nonlinear visual receptive fields and show that their optimal stimuli, as well as the orientation and frequency...