Published in


Neural Networks: Latent Space’s *Physics* as a Loss on the Encoder

~ if a timeseries’ latent space obeys rules, it formed abstractions ~

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

TL;DR —Add a loss to the encoder proportional to how un-*easy-physics*-esque the latent space’s own behavior is. Anneal toward a latent space which has simple rules for timesteps’ motion of the state vector, in that latent space itself. You can also substitute running-the-world-simulation with running-the-mini-physics on the state’s latent-space vector.

When a neural network is asked to encode the state of the world as a compressed feature vector, we often find that the space those feature vectors inhabit forms Cartesian coordinates. That is, if you measure the distance and direction between encoding[QUEEN] and encoding[KING], that line closely matches the line between encoding[WOMAN] and encoding[MAN]! That’s a good sign that the latent space these feature vectors inhabit is some kind of sensible ordering of the concepts. The network has ‘made sense of things’.

Yet, we do not know if that sensibility is anything meaningful. Are they forming what we would identify as real abstract concepts? How might we measure if this has occurred? I don’t assume we can guarantee finding all instances of abstraction — instead, I propose one path which, if we did find a network like it, would be proof of existence. And, it might be darn handy.

So, we would first determine a broad grammar and lexicon of what we mean by “physics-esque” behavior. (And, I should clarify: these are explicit and exact equations which are being discovered, tested, and re-assembled by a mini-neural network…) Then, we form that neural network, whose job is this: given a latent space’s set of observed timestep-pairs (before-after), find an ‘easy physics’ which describes the motions observed in this latent space. If that little neural network cannot easily (and early in the training regime) discover a simple physics, then punish the encoder network a little bit, specifically in the places that showed-up as errors in each rule the mini-physics network attempted.

Wait, what? So, your encoder produces a latent space. Then mini-physics network tries to find a simple physics for that latent space. When it attempts various rules, there are locations of error when that rule is presumed, a loss signal for the mini-physics network, as it hunts for the right rules. Those sites of loss, accumulated, should ALSO be the sites receiving a loss function, on the encoder network! The fewer the number of errors, when using a single attempted physics, then the stronger the loss signal that those errors’ sites receive, on the encoder: “Yes, encoding that input to this location did allow a high fidelity reconstruction…but it was the only part of the latent space that didn’t fit a polar rotation! Apply HUGE losses to the encoder, there.

This “greatest-loss-signal-when-nearly-perfect” concentrates the loss that the encoder receives from the mini-physics network’s searching, by ignoring the numerous physics which each produced many errors, in favor of the almost-perfect latent-space-physic’s last remaining errors. The encoder network anneals loss in the most favorable direction, ‘snapping’ into a physics as it comes closer, because the few remaining errors create a signal so strong that it overwhelms reconstruction losses, forcing the decoder to adapt to the coherent physic’s ‘insight’.

[I should mention, as well, that this is intended for the complex, emergent, swirling world and all its strange subspaces. Yeah, neural networks have re-imagined known physics, which is fitting a set of equations to the observed behavior of the world itself. That’s distinct from finding a physics of the latent space. I’m hoping a neural network can learn explicit logic and exact relationships from YouTube videos. A latent space physics would be the proof by demonstration that such reasoning was occurring. Also, you may need to restrict yourself to certain subspaces of the latent space, for predictions to hold — the other variables may be stochastic! I’ll stop there. Good luck.]



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store