Stochastic Learning in Neuromorphic Hardware via Spike Timing Dependent Plasticity with RRAM Synapses

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Hardware processors for neuromorphic computing are gaining significant interest as they offer the possibility of real in-memory computing, thus by-passing the limitations of speed and energy consumption of the von Neumann architecture. One of the major limitations of current neuromorphic technology is the lack of bio-realistic and scalable devices to improve the current design of artificial synapses and neurons. To overcome these limitations, the emerging technology of resistive switching memory has attracted wide interest as a nano-scaled synaptic element. This paper describes the implementation of a perceptron-like neuromorphic hardware capable of spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP), and its operation under stochastic learning conditions. The learning algorithm of a single or multiple patterns, consisting of either static or dynamic visual input data, is described. The impact of noise is studied with respect to learning efficiency (false fire, true fire) and learning time. Finally, the impact of stochastic learning rule, such as the inversion of the time dependence of potentiation and depression in STDP, is considered. Overall, the work provides a proof of concept for unsupervised learning by STDP in memristive networks, providing insight into the dynamics of stochastic learning and supporting the understanding and design of neuromorphic networks with emerging memory devices.