Abstract

What can optics with its promise of parallelism do for neural networks which require matrix multipliers? An all optical approach requires optical logic devices which are still in their infancy. An alternative is to retain electronic logic while optically addressing the synapse matrix. This paper considers several versions of an optically addressed neural network compatible with VLSI that could be fabricated with the synapse connection unspecified. This optical matrix multiplier circuit is compared to an all electronic matrix multiplier. For the optical version a synapse consisting of back-to-back photodiodes is found to have a suitable iv characteristic for optical matrix multiplication (a linear region) plus a clipping or nonlinear region as required for neural networks. Four photodiodes per synapse are required. The strength of the synapse connection is controlled by the optical power and is thus an adjustable parameter. The synapse network can be programmed in various ways such as a shadow mask of metal, imaged mask (static), or light valve or an acoustooptic scanned laser beam or array of beams (dynamic). A milliwatt from LEDs or lasers is adequate power. The neuron has a linear transfer function and is either a summing amplifier, in which case the synapse signal is current, or an integrator, in which case the synapse signal is charge, the choice of which depends on the programming mode. Optical addressing and settling times of microseconds are anticipated. Electronic neural networks using single-value resistor synapses or single-bit programmable synapses have been demonstrated in the high-gain region of discrete single-value feedback. As an alternative to these networks and the above proposed optical synapses, an electronic analog-voltage vector matrix multiplier is considered using MOSFETS as the variable conductance in CMOS VLSI. It is concluded that a shadow mask addressed (static) optical neural network is promising.

© 1987 Optical Society of America

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