Document Type


Publication Date



Weight-sharing is one of the pillars behind Convolutional Neural Networks and their successes. However, in physical neural systems such as the brain, weight-sharing is implausible. This discrepancy raises the fundamental question of whether weight-sharing is necessary. If so, to which degree of precision? If not, what are the alternatives? The goal of this study is to investigate these questions, primarily through simulations where the weight-sharing assumption is relaxed. Taking inspiration from neural circuitry, we explore the use of Free Convolutional Networks and neurons with variable connection patterns. Using Free Convolutional Networks, we show that while weight-sharing is a pragmatic optimization approach, it is not a necessity in computer vision applications. Furthermore, Free Convolutional Networks match the performance observed in standard architectures when trained using properly translated data (akin to video). Under the assumption of translationally augmented data, Free Convolutional Networks learn translationally invariant representations that yield an approximate form of weight-sharing.


This article was originally published in Neural Networks, volume 126, in 2020.


The authors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.