DLL New Features: Embeddings and Merge layers

I've just finished integrating new features into DLL, my deep learning library. I've added support for an embeddings layer, a group layer and a merge layer. This is not yet released, but available in the master branch.

Embeddings are used more and more these days to learn dense representation of characters or word. An embedding layer in a neural network transform labels into a vector. It's generally used as the first layer of the network. The embedding are learned as part of the network.

The merge layer allows to create branches in the network. The input is passed to each sub layer and then the output of each layer is concatenated to form the output of the merged layers. This can be very useful to use different convolutional filter sizes.

The group layer is a simple utility to group layers together. This is mostly to use with merge layers to form several branches.

I've put together a new example to use these features on text classification. The dataset is totally synthetic for now, but this can easily be reproduced with a normal text classification dataset. This kind of model is called a Character Convolutional Neural Network.

Here is the code for example:

constexpr size_t embedding = 16; // The length of the embedding vector
constexpr size_t length = 15;    // The word (or sequence) length

using embedding_network_t = dll::dyn_network_desc<
        // The embedding layer
        dll::embedding_layer<26, length, embedding>

        // The convolutional layers
        , dll::merge_layer<
            , dll::group_layer<
                  dll::conv_layer<1, length, embedding, 16, 3, embedding>
                , dll::mp_2d_layer<16, length - 3 + 1, 1, length - 3 + 1, 1>
            , dll::group_layer<
                  dll::conv_layer<1, length, embedding, 16, 4, embedding>
                , dll::mp_2d_layer<16, length - 4 + 1, 1, length - 4 + 1, 1>
            , dll::group_layer<
                  dll::conv_layer<1, length, embedding, 16, 5, embedding>
                , dll::mp_2d_layer<16, length - 5 + 1, 1, length - 5 + 1, 1>

        // The final softmax layer
        , dll::dense_layer<48, 10, dll::softmax>
    , dll::updater<dll::updater_type::NADAM>     // Nesterov Adam (NADAM)
    , dll::batch_size<50>                        // The mini-batch size
    , dll::shuffle                               // Shuffle before each epoch

auto net = std::make_unique<embedding_network_t>();

// Display the network and dataset

// Train the network for performance sake
net->fine_tune(samples, labels, 50);

// Test the network on train set
net->evaluate(samples, labels);

The network starts with an embedding layer. The embedding is then passed to three convolutional layers with different filter sizes, each followed by a pooling layer. The outputs of the three layers are merged at the end of the merge layer. Finally, a softmax layer is used for classification.

This kind of model can be very powerful and is used regularly. These new features make for a much larger variety of models that can be build with the DLL library.

The full code with the dataset generation can be found online: char_cnn.cpp

The next feature I want to focus on is recurrent neural networks. I'll probably try a single RNN layer first and then upgrade to multi-layers and LSTM and maybe GRU.

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