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Optimally Fuzzy Temporal Memory

Karthik H. Shankar, Marc W. Howard; 14(83):3785−3812, 2013.


Any learner with the ability to predict the future of a structured time-varying signal must maintain a memory of the recent past. If the signal has a characteristic timescale relevant to future prediction, the memory can be a simple shift register---a moving window extending into the past, requiring storage resources that linearly grows with the timescale to be represented. However, an independent general purpose learner cannot a priori know the characteristic prediction- relevant timescale of the signal. Moreover, many naturally occurring signals show scale-free long range correlations implying that the natural prediction-relevant timescale is essentially unbounded. Hence the learner should maintain information from the longest possible timescale allowed by resource availability. Here we construct a fuzzy memory system that optimally sacrifices the temporal accuracy of information in a scale-free fashion in order to represent prediction- relevant information from exponentially long timescales. Using several illustrative examples, we demonstrate the advantage of the fuzzy memory system over a shift register in time series forecasting of natural signals. When the available storage resources are limited, we suggest that a general purpose learner would be better off committing to such a fuzzy memory system.

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