Deepmind Introduces PonderNet, A New AI Algorithm That Allows Artificial Neural Networks To Learn To “Think For A While” Before Answering

Deepmind introduces PonderNet, a new algorithm that allows artificial neural networks to learn to think for a while before answering. This improves the ability of these neural networks to generalize outside of their training distribution and answer tough questions with more confidence than ever before.

The time required to solve a problem is not just influenced by the size of inputs but also the complexity. Also, the amount of computation used in standard neural networks is not proportional to the complexity, but rather it’s proportional with size. To address this issue, Deepmind, in its latest research, presents PonderNet, which builds on Adaptive Computation Time (ACT; Graves, 2016) and other adaptive networks.

PonderNet is fully differentiable and can leverage low-variance gradient estimates (unlike REINFORCE). It has unbiased gradient estimates, unlike ACT. It achieves this by reformulating the halting policy as a probabilistic model.

PonderNet is a neural network algorithm that incentivizes exploration over pondering time to improve the accuracy of predictions. Deepmind researchers used PonderNet on their parity task and demonstrated how it can increase computation when extrapolating beyond seen data during training, achieving higher accuracy in complex domains such as question answering and multi-step reasoning.


Asif Razzaq is an AI Journalist and Cofounder of Marktechpost, LLC. He is a visionary, entrepreneur and engineer who aspires to use the power of Artificial Intelligence for good.

Asif's latest venture is the development of an Artificial Intelligence Media Platform (Marktechpost) that will revolutionize how people can find relevant news related to Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Machine Learning.

Asif was featured by Onalytica in it’s ‘Who’s Who in AI? (Influential Voices & Brands)’ as one of the 'Influential Journalists in AI' ( His interview was also featured by Onalytica (