Deep Molecular Programming: A Natural Implementation of Binary-Weight ReLU Neural Networks

Part of Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning 1 pre-proceedings (ICML 2020)

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Marko Vasic, Cameron Chalk, Sarfraz Khurshid, David Soloveichik


Embedding computation in molecular contexts incompatible with traditional electronics is expected to have wide ranging impact in synthetic biology, medicine, nanofabrication and other fields. A key remaining challenge lies in developing programming paradigms for molecular computation that are well-aligned with the underlying chemical hardware and do not attempt to shoehorn ill-fitting electronics paradigms. We discover a surprisingly tight connection between a popular class of neural networks (Binary-weight ReLU aka BinaryConnect) and a class of coupled chemical reactions that are absolutely robust to reaction rates. The robustness of rate-independent chemical computation makes it a promising target for bioengineering implementation. We show how a BinaryConnect neural network trained in silico using well-founded deep learning optimization techniques, can be compiled to an equivalent chemical reaction network, providing a novel molecular programming paradigm. We illustrate such translation on widely used IRIS and MNIST datasets. Our work sets the stage for rich knowledge transfer between neural network and molecular programming communities.