Parekh, Ojas D.; Ryan-Anderson, Ciaran R.; Gharibian, Sevag G.

Shor's groundbreaking quantum algorithm for integer factoring provides an exponential speedup over the best-known classical algorithms. In the 20 years since Shor's algorithm was conceived, only a handful of fundamental quantum algorithmic kernels, generally providing modest polyno- mial speedups over classical algorithms, have been invented. To better understand the potential advantage quantum resources provide over their classical counterparts, one may consider other re- sources than execution time of algorithms. Quantum Approximation Algorithms direct the power of quantum computing towards optimization problems where quantum resources provide higher- quality solutions instead of faster execution times. We provide a new rigorous analysis of the recent Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm, demonstrating that it provably outperforms the best known classical approximation algorithm for special hard cases of the fundamental Maximum Cut graph-partitioning problem. We also develop new types of classical approximation algorithms for finding near-optimal low-energy states of physical systems arising in condensed matter by ex- tending seminal discrete optimization techniques. Our interdisciplinary work seeks to unearth new connections between discrete optimization and quantum information science.

The random walk is a fundamental stochastic process that underlies many numerical tasks in scientific computing applications. We consider here two neural algorithms that can be used to efficiently implement random walks on spiking neuromorphic hardware. The first method tracks the positions of individual walkers independently by using a modular code inspired by the grid cell spatial representation in the brain. The second method tracks the densities of random walkers at each spatial location directly. We analyze the scaling complexity of each of these methods and illustrate their ability to model random walkers under different probabilistic conditions.

Neural-inspired spike-based computing machines often claim to achieve considerable advantages in terms of energy and time efficiency by using spikes for computation and communication. However, fundamental questions about spike-based computation remain unanswered. For instance, how much advantage do spike-based approaches have over conventionalmethods, and underwhat circumstances does spike-based computing provide a comparative advantage? Simply implementing existing algorithms using spikes as the medium of computation and communication is not guaranteed to yield an advantage. Here, we demonstrate that spike-based communication and computation within algorithms can increase throughput, and they can decrease energy cost in some cases. We present several spiking algorithms, including sorting a set of numbers in ascending/descending order, as well as finding the maximum or minimum ormedian of a set of numbers.We also provide an example application: a spiking median-filtering approach for image processing providing a low-energy, parallel implementation. The algorithms and analyses presented here demonstrate that spiking algorithms can provide performance advantages and offer efficient computation of fundamental operations useful in more complex algorithms.

The rise of low-power neuromorphic hardware has the potential to change high-performance computing; however much of the focus on brain-inspired hardware has been on machine learning applications. A low-power solution for solving partial differential equations could radically change how we approach large-scale computing in the future. The random walk is a fundamental stochastic process that underlies many numerical tasks in scientific computing applications. We consider here two neural algorithms that can be used to efficiently implement random walks on spiking neuromorphic hardware. The first method tracks the positions of individual walkers independently by using a modular code inspired by grid cells in the brain. The second method tracks the densities of random walkers at each spatial location directly. We present the scaling complexity of each of these methods and illustrate their ability to model random walkers under different probabilistic conditions. Finally, we present implementations of these algorithms on neuromorphic hardware.

Boolean circuits of McCulloch-Pitts threshold gates are a classic model of neural computation studied heavily in the late 20th century as a model of general computation. Recent advances in large-scale neural computing hardware has made their practical implementation a near-term possibility. We describe a theoretical approach for multiplying two N by N matrices that integrates threshold gate logic with conventional fast matrix multiplication algorithms, that perform O(Nω) arithmetic operations for a positive constant ω < 3. Our approach converts such a fast matrix multiplication algorithm into a constant-depth threshold circuit with approximately O(Nω) gates. Prior to our work, it was not known whether the Θ(N3)-gate barrier for matrix multiplication was surmountable by constant-depth threshold circuits. Dense matrix multiplication is a core operation in convolutional neural network training. Performing this work on a neural architecture instead of off-loading it to a GPU may be an appealing option.

We study several natural instances of the geometric hitting set problem for input consisting of sets of line segments (and rays, lines) having a small number of distinct slopes. These problems model path monitoring (e.g., on road networks) using the fewest sensors (the “hitting points”). We give approximation algorithms for cases including (i) lines of 3 slopes in the plane, (ii) vertical lines and horizontal segments, (iii) pairs of horizontal/vertical segments. We give hardness and hardness of approximation results for these problems. We prove that the hitting set problem for vertical lines and horizontal rays is polynomially solvable.

Neural computing has been identified as a computing alternative in the post-Moore's Law era, however much of its attention has been directed at specialized applications such as machine learning. For scientific computing applications, particularly those that often depend on supercomputing, it is not clear that neural machine learning is the exclusive contribution to be made by neuromorphic platforms. In our presentation, we will discuss ways that looking to the brain as a whole and neurons specifically can provide new sources for inspiration for computing beyond current machine learning applications. Particularly for scientific computing, where approximate methods for computation introduce additional challenges, the development of non-approximate methods for neural computation is potentially quite valuable. In addition, the brain's dramatic ability to utilize context at many different scales and incorporate information from many different modalities is a capability currently poorly realized by neural machine learning approaches yet offers considerable potential impact on scientific applications.

SOFSEM 2017: Theory and Practice of Computer Science

Mkrtchyan, Vahan M.; Parekh, Ojas D.; Segev, Danny S.; Subramani, K.S.

Motivated by applications in risk management of computational systems, we focus our attention on a special case of the partial vertex cover problem, where the underlying graph is assumed to be a tree. Here, we consider four possible versions of this setting, depending on whether vertices and edges are weighted or not. Two of these versions, where edges are assumed to be unweighted, are known to be polynomial-time solvable (Gandhi, Khuller, and Srinivasan, 2004). However, the computational complexity of this problem with weighted edges, and possibly with weighted vertices, has not been determined yet. The main contribution of this paper is to resolve these questions, by fully characterizing which variants of partial vertex cover remain intractable in trees, and which can be efficiently solved. In particular, we propose a pseudo-polynomial DP-based algorithm for the most general case of having weights on both edges and vertices, which is proven to be NPhard. This algorithm provides a polynomial-time solution method when weights are limited to edges, and combined with additional scaling ideas, leads to an FPTAS for the general case. A secondary contribution of this work is to propose a novel way of using centroid decompositions in trees, which could be useful in other settings as well.

The dentate gyrus forms a critical link between the entorhinal cortex and CA3 by providing a sparse version of the signal. Concurrent with this increase in sparsity, a widely accepted theory suggests the dentate gyrus performs pattern separation-similar inputs yield decorrelated outputs. Although an active region of study and theory, few logically rigorous arguments detail the dentate gyrus's (DG) coding.We suggest a theoretically tractable, combinatorial model for this action. The model provides formal methods for a highly redundant, arbitrarily sparse, and decorrelated output signal. To explore the value of this model framework, we assess how suitable it is for two notable aspects of DG coding: how it can handle the highly structured grid cell representation in the input entorhinal cortex region and the presence of adult neurogenesis, which has been proposed to produce a heterogeneous code in the DG.We find tailoring themodel to grid cell input yields expansion parameters consistent with the literature. In addition, the heterogeneous coding reflects activity gradation observed experimentally. Finally,we connect this approach with more conventional binary threshold neural circuit models via a formal embedding.