A Stochastic Computational Multi-Layer Perceptron with Backward Propagation

Yidong Liu, Siting Liu, Yanzhi Wang, Fabrizio Lombardi, Jie Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Stochastic computation has recently been proposed for implementing artificial neural networks with reduced hardware and power consumption, but at a decreased accuracy and processing speed. Most existing implementations are based on pre-training such that the weights are predetermined for neurons at different layers, thus these implementations lack the ability to update the values of the network parameters. In this paper, a stochastic computational multi-layer perceptron (SC-MLP) is proposed by implementing the backward propagation algorithm for updating the layer weights. Using extended stochastic logic (ESL), a reconfigurable stochastic computational activation unit (SCAU) is designed to implement different types of activation functions such as the $tanh$ and the rectifier function. A triple modular redundancy (TMR) technique is employed for reducing the random fluctuations in stochastic computation. A probability estimator (PE) and a divider based on the TMR and a binary search algorithm are further proposed with progressive precision for reducing the required stochastic sequence length. Therefore, the latency and energy consumption of the SC-MLP are significantly reduced. The simulation results show that the proposed design is capable of implementing both the training and inference processes. For the classification of nonlinearly separable patterns, at a slight loss of accuracy by 1.32-1.34 percent, the proposed design requires only 28.5-30.1 percent of the area and 18.9-23.9 percent of the energy consumption incurred by a design using floating point arithmetic. Compared to a fixed-point implementation, the SC-MLP consumes a smaller area (40.7-45.5 percent) and a lower energy consumption (38.0-51.0 percent) with a similar processing speed and a slight drop of accuracy by 0.15-0.33 percent. The area and the energy consumption of the proposed design is from 80.7-87.1 percent and from 71.9-93.1 percent, respectively, of a binarized neural network (BNN), with a similar accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8319953
Pages (from-to)1273-1286
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Stochastic computation
  • binary search
  • multi-layer perceptron
  • neural network
  • probability estimator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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