Spiking neurons are models for the computational units in biological neural
systems where information is considered to be encoded mainly in the temporal
patterns of their activity. They provide a way of analyzing neural computation
that is not captured by the traditional neuron models such as sigmoidal
and threshold gates (or ``Perceptrons'').
We introduce a simple model of a spiking neuron that, in addition to
the weights which model the plasticity of synaptic strength, also includes
variable transmission delays between neurons as programmable parameters.
For the input and output values two types of coding are taken into account:
binary coding for the Boolean and analog coding for the realvalued domain.
We investigate the complexity of learning for a single spiking neuron
within the framework of PAClearnability. Regarding sample complexity,
we prove that the VCdimension is $\Theta(n\log n)$ and, hence, strictly
larger than that of a threshold gate. In particular, the lower bound turns
out to hold for binary coding and even holds if all weights are kept fixed.
The upper bound is valid for the case of analog coding if weights {\em
and} delays are programmable.
Concerning computational complexity, we show that there is no polynomialtime
PAClearning algorithm, unless RP=NP, for a quite restricted spiking neuron
that is only slightly more powerful than a Boolean threshold gate: The
consistency problem for a spiking neuron using binary coding and programmable
delays from $\{0,1\}$ is NPcomplete. This holds even if all weights are
kept fixed.
Our results show that temporal coding has a surprisingly large impact
on the complexity of learning for single neurons.
