Bernhard Schäfl, Lukas Gruber, Angela Bitto-Nemling, and Sepp Hochreiter
While Deep Learning excels in structured data as encountered in vision and natural language processing, it failed to meet its expectations on tabular data. For tabular data, Support Vector Machines (SVMs), Random Forests, and Gradient Boosting are the best performing techniques with Gradient Boosting in the lead. Recently, we saw a surge of Deep Learning methods that were tailored to tabular data but still underperform compared to Gradient Boosting on small-sized datasets. We suggest “Hopular”, a novel Deep Learning architecture for medium- and small-sized datasets, where each layer is equipped with continuous modern Hopfield networks. The modern Hopfield networks use stored data to identify feature-feature, feature-target, and sample-sample dependencies. Hopular’s novelty is that every layer can directly access the original input as well as the whole training set via stored data in the Hopfield networks. Therefore, Hopular can step-wise update its current model and the resulting prediction at every layer like standard iterative learning algorithms. In experiments on small-sized tabular datasets with less than 1,000 samples, Hopular surpasses Gradient Boosting, Random Forests, SVMs, and in particular several Deep Learning methods. In experiments on medium-sized tabular data with about 10,000 samples, Hopular outperforms XGBoost, CatBoost, LightGBM and a state-of-the art Deep Learning method designed for tabular data. Thus, Hopular is a strong alternative to these methods on tabular data.