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Virtual Neuron: A Neuromorphic Approach for Encoding Numbers

Publication Type
Conference Paper
Book Title
2022 IEEE International Conference on Rebooting Computing (ICRC)
Publication Date
Page Numbers
100 to 105
Publisher Location
New Jersey, United States of America
Conference Name
IEEE International Conference on Rebooting Computing (ICRC) 2022
Conference Location
San Francisco, California, United States of America
Conference Sponsor
Conference Date

Neuromorphic computers perform computations by emulating the human brain and are expected to be indispensable for energy-efficient computing in the future. They are primarily used in spiking neural network-based machine learning applications. However, neuromorphic computers are unable to preprocess data for these applications. Currently, data is preprocessed on a CPU or a GPU-this incurs a significant cost of transferring data from the CPU/GPU to the neuromorphic processor and vice versa. This cost can be avoided if preprocessing is done on the neuromorphic processor. To efficiently preprocess data on a neuromorphic processor, we first need an efficient mechanism for encoding data that can lend itself to all general-purpose preprocessing operations. Current encoding approaches have limited applicability and may not be suitable for all preprocessing operations. In this paper, we present the virtual neuron as a mechanism for encoding integers and rational numbers on neuromorphic processors. We evaluate the performance of the virtual neuron on physical and simulated neuromorphic hardware and show that it can perform an addition operation using 23 nJ of energy on average using a mixed-signal, memristor-based neuromorphic processor. The virtual neuron encoding approach is the first step in preprocessing data on a neuromorphic processor.