Learning pointer offset in circular buffer, does not require grad error

Hi! I have a very simple example Module below, where I have a circular buffer, and attempt to learn a _delay parameter (i.e. distance between a read and write pointer) that transforms an input sin wave into a phase-shifted and zero-padded output. The goal is to emulate a delay line (as in DSP), learning an unknown delay parameter given some arbitrary input and reference output.

Currently this gives errors that the element 0 of tensors does not require grad and does not have a grad_fn - maybe, the problem (as represented) isn’t differentiable?

Any advice as to why this doesn’t work would be appreciate, and practical suggestions for representing this problem in PyTorch! Thanks :slight_smile:


Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "delay_eg.py", line 59, in <module>
  File "venv391/lib/python3.9/site-packages/torch/_tensor.py", line 307, in backward
    torch.autograd.backward(self, gradient, retain_graph, create_graph, inputs=inputs)
  File "venv391/lib/python3.9/site-packages/torch/autograd/__init__.py", line 154, in backward
RuntimeError: element 0 of tensors does not require grad and does not have a grad_fn

Re-producible code (note that the read pointer is fractional!):

import numpy as np
import torch

class Delay(torch.nn.Module):

    def __init__(self, N=44100, offset=1):
        self.N = N
        self.register_buffer('circ_buffer', torch.zeros(N, 1, dtype=torch.float))
        self._delay = torch.nn.Parameter(torch.FloatTensor([offset]))

    def reset_state(self):
        self.circ_buffer[self.circ_buffer > 0.0] = 0.0
        self.circ_buffer[self.circ_buffer < 0.0] = 0.0
        self._read_ptr = 0.0
        self._write_ptr = int(self._delay.item())

    def forward(self, x):
        y = torch.zeros(*x.shape, dtype=torch.float).to(x.device)
        for i in range(x.shape[0]):
            x_i = x[i].item()
            # Write
            self.circ_buffer[self._write_ptr] = x_i
            # Read (with linear interpolation)
            i0 = np.floor(self._read_ptr).astype(int)
            i1 = (i0 + 1) % self.N
            frac = self._read_ptr - np.floor(self._read_ptr)
            y[i] = self.circ_buffer[i0] + frac*(self.circ_buffer[i1]-self.circ_buffer[i0])
            # Pointers
            self._write_ptr += 1
            if self._write_ptr == self.N:
                self._write_ptr = 0
            self._read_ptr += 1
            if self._read_ptr >= self.N:
                self._read_ptr -= self.N
        return y

if __name__ == "__main__":
    device = torch.device("cpu")

    # Simple sin wave
    ts = np.arange(0.0, 0.3, 1/44100)
    xs = np.sin(2*np.pi*5*ts + 0)
    # Phase shift, with zero padding
    delay = int(xs.shape[0]/1.31)
    ys = np.concatenate([np.zeros(xs.shape[0]-delay), xs[:delay]])

    model = Delay().to(device)
    learning_rate = 1e-3
    optimizer = torch.optim.Adam(params=model.parameters(), lr=learning_rate)
    device = next(model.parameters()).device
    loss_fn = torch.nn.MSELoss()

    for _ in range(100):
        xst = torch.tensor(xs).float().to(device)
        yst = torch.tensor(ys).float().to(device)
        loss = loss_fn(model(xst), yst)

Hi Hmmm!

Although _delay is a Parameter and potentially trainable, at a technical
level, as soon as you call .item() on it you “break the computation graph,”
as the result of .item() is no longer a pytorch tensor and therefore no
longer participates in autograd.

At a more conceptual level, you then call python’s int() (on the result of
.item()). int() is not (usefully) differentiable, so even if you performed
that logic using pytorch tensor operations, you would still not be able to
backpropagate gradients through that step in the computation.

I don’t understand your use case, so I don’t know whether this would
work, but, at least in terms of differentiability, you might try performing
an “interpolated write,” analogously to the interpolated read that you
have implemented.


K. Frank

1 Like

Thank you K. Frank, that was exactly the problem.

Instead of adding an “interpolated write” (which is indeed a bit odd), I re-worked things to offset the read pointer by _delay, and reworked the read accordingly:

i0 = torch.floor(self._read_ptr).data[0].long()
i1 = (i0 + 1) % self.N
frac = self._read_ptr - torch.floor(self._read_ptr)
y[i] = self.circ_buffer[i0] + frac*(self.circ_buffer[i1]-self.circ_buffer[i0])

Now, it converges nicely (although slightly slowly).