Examples: kohonen.in

This example involves a Kohonen network that is trained on the handwritten digits task. A Kohonen network is a type of unsupervised Hebbian network that can be used to solve clustering problems. Like most Hebbian networks, this one consists of two layers: the input and the map layer. The input is just the standard hand-digits input. The interesting one is the map layer.

The map layer is topographically organized. It is a two-dimensional sheet and the distance between units is determined by their Euclidean distance in the sheet. The map layer uses the DISTANCE input function and the KOHONEN output function. Note that a Kohonen network is a form of standard network. It does not have a special network type.

The DISTANCE input function computes the input to the unit as the squared Euclidian distance between the incoming weight vector and the corresponding vector of input unit activations. If the pattern of activations on the input units is similar to the pattern of link weights from those units into a map unit, that map unit will have a small input.

The thing to remember here is that, with the KOHONEN output function, smaller inputs mean greater activation. Thus, the more similar a map unit's vector of incoming weights is to the input pattern, the more the unit will prefer that pattern, as indicated by a small input value.

The KOHONEN output function is not like most output functions. First it determines which unit in the layer has the smallest input. This is the winning unit. It also calculates the max input to any unit. Any unit that is farther from the winning unit than the map group's neighborhood distance will have 0.0 output.

Only those units within the neighborhood of the winning unit will be active. Their activation is given by the formula:

    output = 1 - (input / max);

Thus, the smaller the input, the larger the output. And the output is always in the range [0,1].

The backprogation phase in a DISTANCE/KOHONEN group will only affect the links of active units. The error derivative of links into active units will be incremented by the difference between the link weight and the activation of the sending unit. When the weight upate takes place, this will nudge the weight to be more like the sending activation. Thus, active units will be more sharply tuned to outputs that activate them.

The other crucial part of the Kohonen algorithm is that the neighborhood distance starts large and is gradually reduced. This can be done in Lens using a preEpochProc procedure. The setNeighborhood procedure, defined in kohonen.in, initializes the neighborhood to 6.0 when training begins. Every 50 epochs it will reduce the neighborhood according to the following function:

    neighborhood = 0.9 * neighborhood + 0.1

This function causes the neighborhood to gradually decay towards 1.0. This isn't necessarily the best neighborhood decay function and you might get better learning with one that decays more or less quickly.

Now it's time to train the model. So hit the train button. This will train the Kohonen network on 2000 batches of 100 examples, or 200,000 total examples. As the network trains, the neighborhood value will be printed out whenever it is changed.

Now open the Unit Viewer and click on some examples. You should see that only a small region of the map layer is activated by each example. This is probably a plus shaped region if the neighborhood is just a bit over 1.0.

You should notice that 0's seem to activate the same or nearby sets of units. Other digits should activate different areas of the map layer. This is the basis of the Kohonen net's clustering ability. Although it received no feedback, it has separated the different types of digit. Later we'll work on actually producing a classification of the examples using the Kohonen network.

Now change the value shown in the Unit Viewer to Inputs. You may want to change the intensity slider on the right to get better contrast. This shows you how activated (or deactivated, really) the map units are by each example. You might consider basing a classifier on the map unit inputs, rather than their outputs.

Try to figure out where the cluster for each of the digits is located. It is possible that a digit has more than one cluster. This may be the case if some digits have multiple forms, like an open or closed 4 or a crossed or uncrossed 7.

Now this is the cool part. Right click on a unit in the middle of one of the clusters. This will show you the incoming weights to that unit. You should see that weights from the input layer form a idealized digit of the type recognized by that cluster. You may need to adjust the intensity scale again.

The weights to units near the cluster centers should be in the form of recognizable digits. As you move between clusters, the weight patterns will morph from one digit to another.

You will notice that the neighborhoods don't wrap around the edges of the map in this network. So clusters on the sides of the map tend to be crushed. We can allow the distance function to wrap around the edges of the map by setting its periodicBoundary field to 1.

Turn on periodic boundary conditions and reset the network. Now train again. But first, open the Link Viewer and Unit Viewer. In the Unit Viewer you can watch the shape of the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods should now wrap around the edges of the map. In the Link Viewer you can watch the patterns that form in the weights as it trains.

If you are interested in Kohonen networks, try writing an actual classifier based on it. One way to do that is as follows: Write a script that runs through the examples with a trained network and, for each map unit, computes the probability that each digit has appeared given that the map unit was active.

Now you can classify examples by running the network on the example, finding the most active unit, and guessing the most likely digit given that example. How well does your classifier do on the testing examples?

In case you're lazy, I wrote a classifier that you can play with and modify. It is located in kohonen.tcl. Just source the file and then you can run its procedures. With a trained network, run gatherStatistics. This goes through the training examples and gathers the data. Then run testClassifier and give it either the name of the training or testing set. This will report the percentage of correct classifications. It gets about 90% correct on either set.

You could write a much faster classifier if you wrote it in C. But you'll have to refer to the Programmer's Guide to learn how to do that.

Can you modify the method to produce a more accurate classifier? Can you get better performance by improving the way the network was trained. Consider using a large map layer, a different learning rate, reducing the learning rate as it trains, and using a different neighborhood decay function.

Douglas Rohde
Last modified: Wed Nov 22 15:29:25 EST 2000