The learning process in Boltzmann machines is computationally very expensive. The computational complexity of the exact algorithm is exponential in the number of neurons. We present a new approximate learning algorithm for Boltzmann machines, based on mean-field theory and the linear response theorem. The computational complexity of the algorithm is cubic in the number of neurons.

In the absence of hidden units, we show how the weights can be directly computed from the fixed-point equation of the learning rules. Thus, in this case we do not need to use a gradient descent procedure for the learning process. We show that the solutions of this method are close to the optimal solutions and give a significant improvement when correlations play a significant role. Finally, we apply the method to a pattern completion task and show good performance for networks up to 100 neurons.

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