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Neural Delay Differential Equations

Qunxi Zhu · Yao Guo · Wei Lin


Keywords: [ neural networks ] [ Delay differential equations ]


Neural Ordinary Differential Equations (NODEs), a framework of continuous-depth neural networks, have been widely applied, showing exceptional efficacy in coping with some representative datasets. Recently, an augmented framework has been successfully developed for conquering some limitations emergent in application of the original framework. Here we propose a new class of continuous-depth neural networks with delay, named as Neural Delay Differential Equations (NDDEs), and, for computing the corresponding gradients, we use the adjoint sensitivity method to obtain the delayed dynamics of the adjoint. Since the differential equations with delays are usually seen as dynamical systems of infinite dimension possessing more fruitful dynamics, the NDDEs, compared to the NODEs, own a stronger capacity of nonlinear representations. Indeed, we analytically validate that the NDDEs are of universal approximators, and further articulate an extension of the NDDEs, where the initial function of the NDDEs is supposed to satisfy ODEs. More importantly, we use several illustrative examples to demonstrate the outstanding capacities of the NDDEs and the NDDEs with ODEs' initial value. More precisely, (1) we successfully model the delayed dynamics where the trajectories in the lower-dimensional phase space could be mutually intersected, while the traditional NODEs without any argumentation are not directly applicable for such modeling, and (2) we achieve lower loss and higher accuracy not only for the data produced synthetically by complex models but also for the real-world image datasets, i.e., CIFAR10, MNIST and SVHN. Our results on the NDDEs reveal that appropriately articulating the elements of dynamical systems into the network design is truly beneficial to promoting the network performance.

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