I've been learning about Recurrent Neural Nets this week, and this post is a *"Summary Note"* for the same.

*A "Summary Note" is just a blog post version of the notes I make for something, primarily for my own reference (if I need to come back to the material in the future). These summary notes won't go into the very foundations of whatever they're about, but rather serve as a quick and practical reference for that particular topic.*

RNNs are inherently different from a traditional feed-forward neural nets, in that, they have the capability to make predictions based on past/future data. This ability to sort of *"memorise"* past/future data is crucial to handling cases which have a temporal aspect to them. Let's take the following conversation between me and Google Assistant on my phone:

Google Assistant is able to answer my 2nd question even without me explicitly mentioning Lakers in the query *(also, it translated stats as 'starts' but that doesn't matter here)*. It's able to do that because it has the context of what I'm asking it from my previous question. I don't know if Google uses RNNs for this exact functionality but in general RNNs are quite good at this sort of *"memorisation"* of context. Let's dig into the details of a basic RNN.

## Table of Contents

## Input

The RNN gets x as input.

One input example will span t time-steps, each of which will be denoted as a vector of dimension `n_x`

.

x^{\langle t \rangle} is the input at the t^{th} time-step. x^{(i)\langle t \rangle} is the input at the t^{th} timestep of example i.

## Output

The RNN will output `y`

which in this example will also span t timesteps, each of which will be a vector of dimension `n_y`

.

## Basic RNN cell

This is how a basic RNN cell looks for time step *t*.

## Parameters to learn

So, the parameters that the RNN needs to learn are:

- W_{ax}
- W_{aa}
- b_{a}
- W_{ya}
- b_{y}

## Forward Propagation Equations

a^{\langle t \rangle} = \tanh(W_{aa} a^{\langle t-1 \rangle} + W_{ax} x^{\langle t \rangle} + b_a)

\hat{y}^{\langle t \rangle} = softmax(W_{ya} a^{\langle t \rangle} + b_y)

Dimensions of a^{\langle t \rangle} and \hat{y}^{\langle t \rangle} are as follows:

### Implementation in numpy

```
# imports and softmax implementation
import numpy as np
import random
def softmax(x):
e_x = np.exp(x - np.max(x))
return e_x / e_x.sum(axis=0)
```

One-hot encoding function. One-hot encodes a number to a column vector of size `n_x`

.

```
def one_hot_encode(number, n_x):
x = np.zeros((n_x,1))
x[number] = 1
return x
```

```
# example
print(one_hot_encode(5,27))
```

```
[[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[1.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]
[0.]]
```

```
def rnn_step_forward(parameters, a_prev, x):
"""
One forward propagation step for a basic RNN cell
Arguments:
parameters -- python dictionary containing the parameters Waa, Wax, Wya, by, and ba.
a_prev -- previous hidden state
x -- input for timestep t
Returns:
a_next -- hidden state for time step t
p_t -- output probabilites
shapes:
Waa -- (n_a, n_a)
Wax -- (n_a, n_x)
by -- (n_y, 1)
ba -- (n_a, 1)
a_prev -- (n_a, m), m=1 in this example
x -- (n_x,1)
a_next -- (n_a, m)
p_t -- (n_a, m)
"""
Waa, Wax, Wya, by, b = parameters['Waa'], parameters['Wax'], parameters['Wya'], parameters['by'], parameters['ba']
a_next = np.tanh(np.dot(Wax, x) + np.dot(Waa, a_prev) + ba) # hidden state
p_t = softmax(np.dot(Wya, a_next) + by)
return a_next, p_t
```

```
def rnn_forward(X, Y, a0, parameters, n_x):
"""
Forward propagation for RNN
Arguments:
X -- python list of one input, eg. [1,2,3,4,5]
Y -- python list of output corresponding to X, eg. [2,3,4,5,6]
a0 -- first hidden state (timestep 0)
Returns:
loss -- final loss after running through all the time steps
cache -- tuple of normalized output probabilities, hidden states, and inputs for all time steps
"""
x, a, y_hat = {}, {}, {}
a[-1] = np.copy(a0)
loss = 0
for t in range(len(X)):
# Setting x[t] to be the one-hot vector representation of the t'th character in X.
x[t] = one_hot_encode(t, n_x)
# Run one step forward of the RNN
a[t], y_hat[t] = rnn_step_forward(parameters, a[t-1], x[t])
# Aggregating the loss till the current time step.
#Update the loss by substracting the cross-entropy term of this time-step from it.
loss -= np.log(y_hat[t][Y[t],0])
cache = (y_hat, a, x)
return loss, cache
```

Using these equations, hidden states and predictions for each time-step can be calculated. Once forward prop for all the time-steps is complete, we can calculate the gradient of the final prediction wrt loss, and start propagating the gradients back in order to find \frac{ \partial J } {\partial W_{ax}}, \frac{ \partial J } {\partial W_{aa}}, \frac{ \partial J } {\partial b_{a}}, \frac{ \partial J } {\partial b_{y}}.

The difference between backpropagation for a feed-forward NN and a RNN is that in case of a RNN, we need to backpropagate through previous time steps (and aggregating the gradients for each timestep in the process), giving it a really cool name, ie, **"Backpropagation Through Time"**.

## Backpropagation Through Time

This is how backpropagating through a single time-step looks like. The loss in this case is cross-entropy loss, summed over all time-steps (during forward prop).

To make things simpler, let's assume we've backpropagated to the point where we've computed \frac{ \partial J } {\partial a^{\langle t \rangle}}. This article has a good explanation on backpropagating through a softmax.

For the sake of simplicity let's define u^{\langle t \rangle} as: u^{\langle t \rangle} = W_{aa} a^{\langle t-1 \rangle} + W_{ax} x^{\langle t \rangle} + b_a Once we know \frac{ \partial J } {\partial a^{\langle t \rangle}}, we can continue with backpropagation as follows:

### Calculation of \frac{ \partial J } {x^{\langle t \rangle}}

Focus on the sequence of multiplications between different tensors which results in the correct dimensions of\frac{ \partial J } {x^{\langle t \rangle}}:

### Calculation of \frac{ \partial J } {\partial W_{ax}}

### Calculation of \frac{ \partial J } {a^{\langle t-1 \rangle}}

### Calculation of \frac{ \partial J } {\partial W_{aa}}

### Implementation in numpy

```
def rnn_step_backward(dy, gradients, parameters, x, a, a_prev):
"""
One back propagation step for a basic RNN cell for a single time step
Arguments:
dy -- Gradient of Loss wrt log probabilities
x -- input for timestep t
a -- hidden state for time step t
a_prev -- previous hidden state
Returns:
gradients -- updated gradients dictionary after performing backprop for time step t
"""
gradients['dWya'] += np.dot(dy, a.T)
gradients['dby'] += dy
da = np.dot(parameters['Wya'].T, dy) + gradients['da_next']
daraw = (1 - a * a) * da
gradients['dba'] += daraw
gradients['dWax'] += np.dot(daraw, x.T)
gradients['dWaa'] += np.dot(daraw, a_prev.T)
gradients['da_next'] = np.dot(parameters['Waa'].T, daraw)
return gradients
```

```
def rnn_backward(X, Y, parameters, cache):
"""
Back propagation for RNN
Arguments:
cache -- tuple of normalized output probabilities, a, and x
Returns:
updated gradients dictionary after performing backprop for all time steps
cache -- tuple of normalized output probabilities, hidden states, and inputs for all time steps
"""
gradients = {}
(y_hat, a, x) = cache
Waa, Wax, Wya, by, ba = parameters['Waa'], parameters['Wax'], parameters['Wya'],\
parameters['by'], parameters['ba']
gradients['dWax'], gradients['dWaa'], gradients['dWya'] = np.zeros_like(Wax), \
np.zeros_like(Waa),\
np.zeros_like(Wya)
gradients['dba'], gradients['dby'] = np.zeros_like(ba), np.zeros_like(by)
gradients['da_next'] = np.zeros_like(a[0])
# Backpropagate through time
for t in reversed(range(len(X))):
"""
in order to backpropagate from softmax output to class scores,
we need to find derivative of Loss wrt class scores,
which in case of binary outputs is simply normalized probability - 1,
more here http://cs231n.github.io/neural-networks-case-study/#grad
"""
dy = np.copy(y_hat[t])
dy[Y[t]] -= 1
gradients = rnn_step_backward(dy, gradients, parameters, x[t], a[t], a[t-1])
return gradients, a
```

```
def update_parameters(parameters, gradients, lr):
parameters['Wax'] -= lr * gradients['dWax']
parameters['Waa'] -= lr * gradients['dWaa']
parameters['Wya'] -= lr * gradients['dWya']
parameters['ba'] -= lr * gradients['dba']
parameters['by'] -= lr * gradients['dby']
return parameters
```

Combining forward and backprop to train the model.

```
def train(X, Y, a_prev, parameters, learning_rate = 0.01):
"""
One step of the optimization to train the model.
Arguments:
a_prev -- previous hidden state.
learning_rate -- learning rate for the model.
Returns:
loss -- value of the loss function (cross-entropy)
gradients -- python dictionary containing dWaa, dWax, dWya, dba, dby
a[len(X)-1] -- the last hidden state, of shape (n_a, 1)
"""
# Forward prop
loss, cache = rnn_forward(X, Y, a_prev, parameters, n_x=27)
# Backprop
gradients, a = rnn_backward(X, Y, parameters, cache)
# Update parameters
parameters = update_parameters(parameters, gradients, learning_rate)
return loss, gradients, a[len(X)-1], parameters
```

```
#example
#using n_x as 27, and 100 hidden states
n_x, n_a = 27, 100
#need to initialize a_prev for timestep 0
a_prev = np.random.randn(n_a, 1)
#initializing the parameters
Wax, Waa, Wya = np.random.randn(n_a, n_x), np.random.randn(n_a, n_a), np.random.randn(n_x, n_a)
ba, by = np.random.randn(n_a, 1), np.random.randn(n_x, 1)
parameters = {"Wax": Wax, "Waa": Waa, "Wya": Wya, "ba": ba, "by": by}
```

Let's say we want to train the RNN to predict characters based on previously seen words. Suppose as per some numerical encoding, the word 'recurrent' translates to `[17, 4, 2, 20, 17, 17, 4, 13, 19]`

. We can train the RNN such that when it sees the sequence of characters `['r', 'e', 'c', 'u', 'r', 'r', 'e', 'n']`

, it predicts the next character to be `'t'`

.

```
X = [17, 4, 2, 20, 17, 17, 4, 13]
Y = [4, 2, 20, 17, 17, 4, 13, 19]
loss, gradients, a_last, parameters1 = train(X, Y, a_prev, parameters, learning_rate = 0.01)
print("Loss =", loss)
```

```
Loss = 154.98690644658103
```

This is how the RNN can be trained on sufficiently large amount of training data.