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Go with the flow: Adaptive control for Neural ODEs

Mathieu Chalvidal · Matthew Ricci · Rufin VanRullen · Thomas Serre

Keywords: [ Neural ODEs ] [ Optimal Control Theory ] [ hypernetworks ] [ Normalizing flows ]


Despite their elegant formulation and lightweight memory cost, neural ordinary differential equations (NODEs) suffer from known representational limitations. In particular, the single flow learned by NODEs cannot express all homeomorphisms from a given data space to itself, and their static weight parameterization restricts the type of functions they can learn compared to discrete architectures with layer-dependent weights. Here, we describe a new module called neurally-controlled ODE (N-CODE) designed to improve the expressivity of NODEs. The parameters of N-CODE modules are dynamic variables governed by a trainable map from initial or current activation state, resulting in forms of open-loop and closed-loop control, respectively. A single module is sufficient for learning a distribution on non-autonomous flows that adaptively drive neural representations. We provide theoretical and empirical evidence that N-CODE circumvents limitations of previous NODEs models and show how increased model expressivity manifests in several supervised and unsupervised learning problems. These favorable empirical results indicate the potential of using data- and activity-dependent plasticity in neural networks across numerous domains.

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