Programmer's Guide: How To Create Group Types

The manual section on group types explains the different sorts of group types and you should be familiar with that. Creating a new group type is a bit easier than creating a network type.

First decide if your type is an input type, output type, cost type (which includes error and other cost functions) or some other type. These correspond to the type classes GROUP_INPUT, GROUP_OUTPUT, GROUP_COST, and GROUP. For the purpose of illustration, we'll create an output type.

Now you need to choose a bitmask for your type. This should be put in your own personal version of the type.h file. Be sure to use comments to mark your addition so you can recreate it when type.h is updated. When adding a new type, you will need to add a #define like those in util.h and choose an unused bit. The shift (the number following << can range from 0 to 31). Just be sure you don't use a bit that has already been taken by one of the other types of your class, such as GROUP_OUTPUT.

For example, we might add (under the heading GROUP_OUTPUT TYPES):

    /* DOUG... */
    #define MY_OUTPUT    ((mask) 1 << 31)
    /* ...DOUG */

A basic output function is one that computes the unit output based on the unit input. Otherwise it might just be a function that modifies the output. If yours is a basic output function, add it to the BASIC_OUTPUT_TYPES. If yours computes the output based on the externalInput, then add it to the CLAMPING_OUTPUT_TYPES.

Now you will need to write some forward and backward procedures for your function. These will be similar to the ones in act.c, such as integrateOutput() and integrateOutputBack() except you'll put yours in extension.c. Here's an example. Because I'm lazy I just copied those functions and renamed them:

    static void myOutput(Group G, GroupProc P) {
      real dt = Net->dt * G->dtScale;
      real *lastOutput = P->unitData;
      real *instantOutput = P->unitHistoryData[HISTORY_INDEX(Net->currentTick)];
      FOR_EACH_UNIT(G, {
        instantOutput[u] = U->output;
        lastOutput[u] += dt * (U->output - lastOutput[u]);
        U->output = lastOutput[u];

    static void myOutputBack(Group G, GroupProc P) {
      real dt = Net->dt * G->dtScale;
      real *lastOutputDeriv = P->unitData;
      real *instantOutput = P->unitHistoryData[HISTORY_INDEX(Net->currentTick)];
      FOR_EACH_UNIT(G, {
        U->output = instantOutput[u];
        lastOutputDeriv[u] += U->outputDeriv - dt * lastOutputDeriv[u];
        U->outputDeriv = dt * lastOutputDeriv[u];

A GroupProc will be allocated for each network that uses your type and placed in the group's outputProcs linked list. You will need to write a type initializer which will initialize this GroupProc structure. It will set the GroupProc's function pointers to the functions you just wrote and build any arrays used by those functions. Here is ours:

    static void myOutputInit(Group G, GroupProc P) {
      P->forwardProc  = myOutput;
      P->backwardProc = myOutputBack;
      P->unitData = realArray(G->numUnits, "OUT_INTEGR:unitData");
      P->unitHistoryData = realMatrix(Net->historyLength, G->numUnits,

Finally, you need to register your type. This is done by placing a call to registerGroupType() in userInit() in extension.c. For example:

    registerGroupType("MY_OUTPUT", MY_OUTPUT, GROUP_OUTPUT, myOutputInit);

The first argument is the name users will call this type when issuing shell commands. The second is the code that you just defined in type.c, the third is the type class, and the fourth is the type initialization function. Now you should be able to issue the shell command:

    addGroup foo 10 MY_OUTPUT

and the group will use your output function. Since we didn't make ours a basic output type, it will also use the default basic output type, LOGISTIC.

Douglas Rohde
Last modified: Mon Nov 13 23:15:16 EST 2000