We describe a system of thousands of binary perceptrons with coarse-oriented edges as input that is able to recognize shapes, even in a context with hundreds of classes. The perceptrons have randomized feed-forward connections from the input layer and form a recurrent network among themselves. Each class is represented by a prelearned attractor (serving as an associative hook) in the recurrent net corresponding to a randomly selected subpopulation of the perceptrons. In training, first the attractor of the correct class is activated among the perceptrons; then the visual stimulus is presented at the input layer. The feedforward connections are modified using field-dependent Hebbian learning with positive synapses, which we show to be stable with respect to large variations in feature statistics and coding levels and allows the use of the same threshold on all perceptrons. Recognition is based on only the visual stimuli. These activate the recurrent network, which is then driven by the dynamics to a sustained attractor state, concentrated in the correct class subset and providing a form of working memory. We believe this architecture is more transparent than standard feedforward two-layer networks and has stronger biological analogies.

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