Information theory and the framework of information dynamics have been used to provide tools to characterise complex systems. In particular, we are interested in quantifying information storage, information modification and information transfer as characteristic elements of computation. Although these quantities are defined for autonomous dynamical systems, information dynamics can also help to get a "wholistic" understanding of input-driven systems such as neural networks. In this case, we do not distinguish between the system itself, and the effects the input has to the system. This may be desired in some cases, but it will change the questions we are able to answer, and is consequently an important consideration, for example, for biological systems which perform non-trivial computations and also retain a short-term memory of past inputs. Many other real world systems like cortical networks are also heavily input-driven, and application of tools designed for autonomous dynamic systems may not necessarily lead to intuitively interpretable results.
The aim of our work is to extend the measurements used in the information dynamics framework for input-driven systems. Using the proposed input-corrected information storage we hope to better quantify system behaviour, which will be important for heavily input-driven systems like artificial neural networks to abstract from specific benchmarks, or for brain networks, where intervention is difficult, individual components cannot be tested in isolation or with arbitrary input data.
On active information storage in input-driven systems
Oliver Obst, Joschka Boedecker, Benedikt Schmidt, Minoru Asada