Overall Objectives
Scientific Foundations
Application Domains
New Results
Other Grants and Activities

Section: Scientific Foundations

Connectionist parallelism

Connectionist models, such as neural networks, are the first models of parallel computing. Artificial neural networks now stand as a possible alternative with respect to the standard computing model of current computers. The computing power of these connectionist models is based on their distributed properties: a very fine-grain massive parallelism with densely interconnected computation units.

The connectionist paradigm is the foundation of the robust, adaptive, embeddable and autonomous processings that we develop in our team. Therefore their specific massive parallelism has to be fully exploited. Furthermore, we use this intrinsic parallelism as a guideline to develop new models and algorithms for which parallel implementations are naturally made easier.

Our approach claims that the parallelism of connectionist models makes them able to deal with strong implementation and application constraints. This claim is based on both theoretical and practical properties of neural networks. It is related to a very fine parallelism grain that fits parallel hardware devices, as well as to the emergence of very large reconfigurable systems that become able to handle both adaptability and massive parallelism of neural networks. More particularly, digital reconfigurable circuits (e.g. FPGA, Field Programmable Gate Arrays) stand as the most suitable and flexible device for fully parallel implementations of neural models, according to numerous recent studies in the connectionist community. We carry out various arithmetical and topological studies that are required by the implementation of several neural models onto FPGAs, as well as the definition of hardware-targetted neural models of parallel computation.

This research field has evolved within our team by merging with our activities in behavioral computational neuroscience. Taking advantage of the ability of the neural paradigm to cope with strong constraints, as well as taking advantage of the highly complex cognitive tasks that our behavioral models may perform, a new research line has emerged that aims at defining a specific kind of brain-inspired hardware based on modular and extensive resources that are capable of self-organization and self-recruitment through learning when they are assembled within a perception-action loop.


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