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by : Zahwah Jameel
April 17th 2023
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Welcome to the world of neural networks, the fascinating new frontier of artificial intelligence. They are the brilliant engine that has moved the field forward. Now more than ever, neural networks are the backbone of modern AI and data science, powering development and creativity in a world where game-changing technologies like ChatGPT and other generative AI marvels rule the day.

Here we’ll explore the rudiments of neural networks, dissecting their many topologies to discover their secret sauce and the reason for their meteoric rise to prominence. From healthcare to banking and beyond, we’ll look at real-world applications influencing the future of these and other industries.

Our motto as we explore the field of neural networks will be “Unlocking AI’s True Potential: One Neuron at a Time.” We can’t wait to help you learn about and implement AI’s powerful neural networks. Let’s start this exciting journey together and honor the profound effect that neural networks have had on our lives and the globe.

What are Neural Networks?

A neural network is a collection of algorithms that attempts to identify underlying links in a data set by simulating how the human brain works. In this context, neural networks are systems of neurons that can be either organic or synthetic in origin.

According to Allied Market Research, the neural network market worldwide was valued at 14.35 billion US dollars in 2020, and it is predicted that it will reach 152.61 billion US dollars by 2030 with a CAGR of 26.7 percent from 2021-2030.

Since neural networks can adapt to changing input, the network can produce the best outcome without changing the output criterion. The artificial intelligence-based idea of neural networks is quickly gaining prominence in the design of trading systems.

Types of Neural Networks

types of neural networks

Before going for the deep dive, let’s understand the different types of neural networks. While it is hard to cover all of them, we have managed to organize them into a few intriguing categories.

We’re starting with the perceptron, the neural network’s ancestor. The perceptron, invented in 1958 by the brilliant Frank Rosenblatt, is the most basic type, with only one neuron.

Remember, this is merely the tip of the iceberg in the huge and ever-changing world of neural networks.

Feedforward Neural Network (FNN)

Feedforward neural networks or multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs) have an input layer, one or more hidden layers, and an output layer. Because the data goes in a single direction with no loops, they are ideal for applications like as image recognition and language processing.

RNNs (Recurrent Neural Networks)

RNNs feature loops that allow information to persist, making them suited for dealing with sequential data such as time series or text. They can recall past inputs and use what they’ve learned to forecast future outcomes.

Convolutional Neural Network (CNN)

CNNs excel in processing grid-like data such as photographs because they are designed to mimic the human visual system. To recognize patterns and features in images, they use convolutional layers, pooling layers, and fully connected layers.

Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) Networks

LSTMs are a form of RNN that can remember long-term dependencies while avoiding the vanishing gradient problem. They are commonly employed in tasks such as speech recognition, machine translation, and text production.

Radial Basis Function Network (RBFN)

These networks approximate any continuous function by using radial basis functions as activation functions. Interpolation, approximation, and pattern recognition activities frequently employ RBFNs.

Autoencoders

Autoencoders are a form of unsupervised learning model that consists of an encoder and a decoder. In the encoder, they compress data and rebuild it in the decoder, learning a compact representation of the input data.

GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks)

GANs are made up of two competing neural networks, a generator, and a discriminator. The generator generates bogus data, whereas the discriminator attempts to discern between real and bogus data. They are used for image synthesis, style transfer, and data augmentation, among other things.

What is a Biological Neural Network?

Biological neural networks are complex networks of interconnected biological neurons present in live animals’ brains and nervous systems. These networks serve an important role in information processing, transmission, and storage, enabling a wide range of tasks such as sensation, perception, cognition, and motor control.

Electrical and chemical signals are used to process and transfer information in biological brain networks. When a biological neuron receives enough information from other neurons, it produces an action potential, which is an electrical signal that travels through the axon and eventually releases neurotransmitters at the synapse.

These neurotransmitters interact with postsynaptic neurons, which may trigger their action potentials if the input is powerful enough, thus continuing the information transmission process.

The structure and function of biological neural networks inspire artificial neural networks, which are utilized in machine learning and artificial intelligence. They seek to imitate biological systems’ learning and processing skills to execute tasks such as pattern recognition, decision-making, and prediction.

Neural Network Architecture

Here are the primary components of the architecture of neural networks:

neural network architecture

Input Layer

The first layer of a neural network, the input layer is in charge of taking in raw data. The dimensionality of the input data (e.g., the number of pixels in a picture or the number of characteristics in a dataset) determines the number of neurons in this layer.

Hidden levels

The intermediate levels between the input and output layers are the hidden layers. They handle the vast majority of network computation. The number of hidden layers and neurons in each hidden layer gets determined by the difficulty of the task and the architecture utilized.

Output Layer

The output layer is the final layer of the neural network and is responsible for generating predictions or classifications. The number of neurons in this layer is determined by the problem’s number of classes or target values.

Activation Function

These are mathematical functions that determine a neuron’s output based on its input. They give the network non-linearity, allowing it to learn complicated relationships. ReLU (Rectified Linear Unit), sigmoid, tanh, and softmax are examples of common activation functions.

Weights and Biases

Weights and biases are neural network parameters learned during the training process. While weights describe the strength of connections between neurons, biases determine the activation threshold of the neuron.

Loss Function

The loss function calculates the discrepancy between the predicted values of the network and the actual target values. It is used to update the network’s weights and biases during training. Mean squared error, cross-entropy, and hinge loss are all common loss functions.

Optimizer

An optimizer is an algorithm that modifies the weights and biases of the network to minimize the loss function. Gradient descent, stochastic gradient descent (SGD), and adaptive algorithms such as Adam and RMSprop are popular optimizers.

How are Neural Networks and Deep Learning Related?

Neural networks are computer models that mimic the structure and function of the human brain, with linked layers of neurons processing and transferring information. On the other hand, deep learning is a subset of machine learning that uses neural networks with multiple layers to automatically learn complex, hierarchical data representations.

Deep learning has transformed industries such as computer vision, audio recognition, and natural language processing due to its capacity to learn characteristics automatically and generalize effectively to new, previously unknown data. Deep learning models can be difficult to interpret and require large amounts of training data and computer capacity.

In essence, neural networks serve as the foundation, while deep learning applies them to address more complicated problems, making it a strong tool for artificial intelligence breakthroughs.

What are the Top Eight Neural Network Libraries?

Here are the top eight neural network libraries.

Keras

Keras is a user-friendly, high-level, and robust API that works with Theano, CNTK, and backend flow for neural network tests. It also runs on GPUs and CPUs and comes with ten different training API modules and neural network modeling.

Pytorch

PyTorch is an optimized, open-source, deep-learning Python library built by Facebook’s AI Lab. It utilizes a Tensor, specifically a torch. Tensor to operate and store rectangular arrays of numbers.

Tensors are like the NumPy array that can operate in the GPU and the torch.nn library has several classes that serve as building blocks to design a neural network.

TensorFlow

TensorFlow is a user-friendly, open-source, machine-learning platform designed by Google Brain. Although TensorFlow wasn’t especially created for neural networks, it is mainly used for it.

A few fundamental areas where TensorFlow is used are speech, text, and image recognition, Natural Language Processing (NLP), handling deep neural networks, abstraction capabilities, partial differential equations, and so on.

Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK)

Developed by Microsoft, CNTK is a robust library for developing and training deep learning models. It supports numerous neural network topologies and provides efficient, scalable processing on both CPU and GPU.

Apache MXnet

Apache MXnet is a flexible, open-source framework for deep learning that enables you to train, design, and deploy neural networks for various devices, from mobile phones to cloud infrastructure. It supports several programming languages, including Python, Scala, and R.

Caffe

Caffe is a deep learning framework developed at the Berkeley Vision and Learning Center that focuses on speed, modularity, and expressiveness. It is highly popular for computer vision tasks like picture categorization and object detection.

Chainer

Chainer is a deep learning framework that emphasizes adaptability and user-friendliness. It enables developers to design complex neural network topologies through the “define-by-run” technique, making it suitable for study and experimentation.

Theano

Theano is an open-source library for numerical computing that enables programmers to swiftly design, improve, and test mathematical expressions. Although it is terminated, it is still an essential library in the deep learning community.

Must Read: 10 Best Python App Development Frameworks in 2023

Neural Network Usage

Consider every node having its linear regression model, which would have input data, weights, a bias (or threshold), and an output. The equation would resemble something like this:

The commercial applications of most technologies center on complicated signal processing or pattern recognition issues. Since 2000, there have been many notable commercial uses for technologies, including handwriting recognition for check processing, speech-to-text transcription, data analysis for oil exploration, weather forecasting, and facial recognition.

Many processors, typically stacked in tiers and running simultaneously, are usually used in an ANN.

Like the optic nerves in the human vision system, the first tier receives the raw input data. As neurons farther away from the optic nerve get signals from them, each succeeding tier receives the output from the layer before the raw input. The system’s output is created in the bottom tier.

Each processing node has its little area of expertise, including the things it has seen and whatever rules it created or was initially programmed with. Since the tiers are closely related, each node in tier n will be connected to numerous nodes in tier n-1, which serves as its input, and tier n+1, which supplies input data for those nodes. The output layer may have one or more nodes, and the produced answer can be read from these nodes.

Artificial neural networks are renowned for their ability to adapt, which means that they change as they gain knowledge from initial training and additional data from later runs. The most fundamental learning model is based on input stream weighting, where each node assigns a value to the significance of the input data from each of its predecessors. The weight of inputs that help provide accurate replies is higher.

Neural Network Implementation Using Python

A paradigm for information processing that draws inspiration from the brain is called an artificial neural network (ANN). ANNs learn via imitation, just like people do. Through a learning process, an ANN is tailored for a particular purpose, such as pattern recognition or data classification.

The synaptic connections that exist between the neurons change as a result of learning. Computer scientists simulate this process by utilizing matrices to build “networks” on a computer.

These networks can be viewed as an abstraction of neurons without considering all the biological complexity. There are two training processes: Forward Propagation and Back Propagation.

Here are some prerequisites for implementing neural networks with Python:

  • At least Python 3.6
  • Tensorflow 2. X
  • Numpy
  • Jupyter Notebook or Google Colab
  • Scikit-Learn
  • Pandas

Optimization of Neural Networks

We address non-convex optimization while considering optimization in the context of neural networks.

Convex optimization involves a function with just one optimal value corresponding to the optimal global value (maximum or minimum). Convex optimization issues are not subject to local optima, making them very simple to resolve.

A function with several optima, but only one is the global optima, used in non-convex optimization. Finding the global optima might take much work, depending on the loss surface.

The curve or surface we refer to is the neural network’s loss surface. The goal of neural network training is to find the global minimum on this loss surface since we are attempting to reduce the network’s prediction error.

So, to tackle these problems, there are specific ways in which you can train your network for better optimization.

Local Optima

Local minima were considered a significant issue in neural network training. According to recent research, the genuine global minimum is no longer very crucial; instead, a local minimum with a respectably low error is acceptable. This is because many local minima suffer a minimal cost when utilizing reasonably large neural networks.

Saddle Points

When we consider the information from recent studies in high dimensions, Local minima are less prevalent than saddle points. Local minima are less complex than saddle points since the gradient might be much smaller. Gradient descent will therefore produce minor network updates, ending network training.

Poor Conditioning

The specific way the error function depicts the learning problem is significant. The fact that the error function’s derivatives are typically not well-conditioned has long been known. Error landscapes with many saddle points and flat areas demonstrate this unconditioning.

Top Optimization Algorithms Used in Neural Networks

These days, several algorithms are used in Neural Networks, which we have noted down below, so let’s take a look at them.

Gradient Descent

The first-order optimization process known as gradient descent requires a loss function’s first-order derivative. It determines how the weights should be changed for the function to reach a minima. The loss is propagated from one layer to the next using backpropagation, and the model’s weights are adjusted by the losses to reduce the loss.

Algorithm: θ=θ−α⋅∇J(θ)

Stochastic Gradient Descent

It is a Gradient Descent version. It aims to perform more frequent parameter updates for the model. The model parameters changes after the computation loss on every training instance. Therefore, if the dataset has 1000 rows, SGD will do it 1000 times instead of updating the model parameters once, like in Gradient Descent.

Algorithm: θ=θ−α⋅∇J(θ;x(i);y(i))

Mini-Batch Gradient Descent

Of all gradient descent methods, it is the best. Both standard gradient descent and SGD are improved by it. After each batch, the model’s parameters are updated. The dataset is split into different batches, and the parameters are changed.

Algorithm: θ=θ−α⋅∇J(θ; B(i))

Nesterov Accelerated Gradient

It is a method that prepares. Since we already know we’ll be altering the weights, we can infer the future location from V(t1). Now, rather than using the current parameter to determine the cost, we will use this future one.

Momentum

Momentum was devised to lower the high variance in SGD and smooth out the convergence. It decreases the fluctuation to the irrelevant direction and speeds up convergence in the order that matters. This approach uses a further hyperparameter called momentum, denoted by the symbol “γ”

Algorithm: V(t)=γV(t−1)+α.∇J(θ)

Adagrad

This optimizer alters the learning rate. At each time step, ‘t’ and for each parameter, it modifies the learning rate “η.” It is an algorithm for second-order optimization. It operates using an error function’s derivative.

AdaDelta

AdaDelta is an addition to AdaGrad that helps to address the issue of decaying learning rates. It restricts accumulated prior gradients to some specified size w rather than accumulating all previously squared gradients.

Instead of using the average of gradients, an exponential moving average is employed in this case.

Algorithm: E[g²](t)=γ.E[g²](t−1)+(1−γ).g²(t)

Adam

Adaptive Moment Estimation (Adam) deals with first-order and second-order momentums. The idea of Adam is that instead of rolling quickly only to clear the minimum, slow down to allow for a more thorough search.
Adam additionally preserves a decaying average of past gradients M and maintains a decaying average of past squared gradients like AdaDelta (t).

Comparing the Neural Network Models

comparing the optimizationalgorithms

The best optimizer is Adam.

Adam is considered an excellent optimizer due to its ability to integrate the finest characteristics of two prominent optimization approaches, momentum, and RMSprop. It adjusts learning rates for each parameter, resulting in faster convergence and better performance.

However, depending on the exact problem and model architecture, the “best” optimizer may differ. As a result, experimenting with different optimizers to discover the best fit for your task is always a smart idea.

Min-batch gradient descent is the best choice if you wish to apply the gradient descent algorithm.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Neural Networks?

Neural Networks have proved more efficient than simple analytic models and humans by working tirelessly. You can also program them to understand previous inputs given and, based on them, predict future outcomes.

Neural networks also mitigate risks when integrated with cloud solutions and perform numerous tasks simultaneously. It has found applications in various sectors like agriculture, medicine, science, and security.

Although neural networks operate online, it still requires a hardware component to create neural networks, creating a network risk relying on set-up prerequisites, the complexity of systems, and physical maintenance.

Since the algorithm of neural networks is complex, developing an algorithm for one task can take months. It also proves difficult to detect bugs, especially when the results have theoretical ranges or estimates.

Also, neural networks need more transparency and are easier to audit. Their processes take time to analyze and track how they learn from prior inputs.

Here’s the list of advantages and disadvantages of Neural Networks.

Advantages

  • Powerful learning capacities: Neural networks are well suited for a variety of applications due to their ability to generalize to new inputs, learn from enormous volumes of data, and identify intricate patterns.
  • Non-linear modeling: Unlike linear models, neural networks can describe non-linear interactions between inputs and outputs.
  • Noise resistance: Because neural networks can manage noisy inputs and partial data, they are suited for noisy and incomplete datasets.
  • Parallel processing: Because neural networks can conduct several computations at the same time, they are ideal for large-scale and real-time processing.
  • Adaptability: Neural networks may modify their internal settings in response to fresh input data, making them suited for dynamic and changing contexts.

Disadvantages

  • Complexity: Neural networks, particularly deep learning models with numerous layers, can be complex and difficult to design, train, and analyze.
  • Black-box nature: Neural networks, particularly deep learning models, can be difficult to read, making it challenging to understand how they make judgments.
  • Overfitting: If not addressed effectively, neural networks can overfit the training data, resulting in poor generalization of fresh data.
  • Computationally Demanding: Neural networks need a substantial amount of processing resources, making them unsuitable for resource-constrained environments.
  • Data requirements: Because neural networks require a substantial quantity of training data, they are not appropriate for small datasets or areas with limited data.

advantages and disadvantages of neural networks

What are the Application of Neural Networks?

Neural networks have become a key part of various industries like healthcare, defense, finance, and automotive. Their ability to adapt makes them the foundational basis of Artificial Intelligence.

Neural networks find applications in daily life, from online shopping and social media platforms to personalized recommendations, voice-to-text, and search recommendations.

Here are some significant applications of Neural Networks.

Stock Market Prediction

Neural networks examine past stock market data and uncover patterns that aid in forecasting future trends, helping investors to make more educated decisions. They can, for example, forecast price fluctuations, volatility, and trade volume.

Facial Recognition

In facial recognition systems, neural networks evaluate and detect distinct facial traits, enabling applications like unlocking cellphones, identifying friends in social networking photographs, and improving security systems.

Social Media

In social media platforms, neural networks play an important role in analyzing user behavior, interests, and preferences. They improve user experience and engagement by enabling personalized content curation, targeted advertising, and sentiment analysis.

Aerospace

Neural networks are used in the aerospace industry for activities like as autopilot systems, malfunction detection, and aircraft performance monitoring. They aid in the prediction of possible problems and the provision of effective solutions to ensure safety and efficiency.

Defense

Neural networks in defense systems detect possible threats and improve surveillance capabilities. They can process massive volumes of data to discover patterns, enabling the development of advanced military technologies like drones and self-driving cars.

Weather Forecasting

Because neural networks can handle massive volumes of meteorological data, they make more accurate weather forecasts. They can simulate complicated atmospheric dynamics, allowing for better short- and long-term forecasting of phenomena such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

Healthcare

Neural networks in healthcare evaluate medical pictures, diagnose diseases, and predict patient outcomes. They can detect early symptoms of diseases such as cancer, enabling doctors in developing the most effective treatment strategies for patients.

Signature and Handwriting Verification

To detect forgeries and verify documents, neural networks are used in the study and verification of signatures and handwriting. They can detect minor changes and patterns, improving security and fraud detection.

Explore this read: Leverage the Power of Conversational AI to Augment Business

What are the Ethical Concerns Regarding Neural Networks?

Bias and Discrimination

This refers to neural networks that perpetuate or magnify existing biases in data, resulting in unfair outcomes. For example, due to past prejudices, a hiring algorithm may accidentally favor male candidates over female prospects.

To overcome this issue, strategies such as re-sampling, re-weighting, or adversarial training can be used to reduce data biases and assure fair decision-making.

Privacy

This worry centers around neural networks’ gathering, storage, and use of sensitive information, which may violate individuals’ privacy. A facial recognition system, for example, might study photos of people without their knowledge.

To address this issue, developers might employ privacy-preserving approaches such as federated learning, differential privacy, or data anonymization to safeguard users’ data.

Lack of Transparency

This ethical dilemma stems from the “black-box” aspect of many neural network models, which makes understanding how they make judgments challenging. A medical diagnosis model, for example, may deliver an output without explaining its reasoning, causing clinicians and patients to lose trust.

To improve transparency, researchers can create explainable AI strategies that aid in elucidating the decision-making process of neural networks.

Misuse and Malicious Applications

This refers to the usage of neural networks for malicious reasons, such as the creation of deepfakes or the generation of fake news.

For example, an AI-generated deepfake movie could spread falsehoods and destroy people’s reputations. To address these problems, robust detection mechanisms for malicious AI-generated content can be created, coupled with legal and regulatory measures to hold perpetrators accountable.

Job Displacement

Advances in neural networks and automation may result in the replacement of human labor in a variety of industries, resulting in job loss and significant societal unrest. Self-driving vehicles, for example, may reduce the need for human drivers.

To lessen the impact, governments and organizations can invest in reskilling programs and implement policies that support the creation of new job prospects in the age of AI and automation.

Collaborate With OnGraph To Build Neural Network Apps

As we wrap up our thrilling exploration of the fantastic universe of neural networks, it becomes abundantly clear that these astounding innovations have fundamentally altered the AI environment.

Neural networks continue to open up previously unimaginable opportunities for businesses and individuals by improving our knowledge of complex systems and giving machines the ability to learn and adapt. The advent of neural networks as the backbone of current AI has ushered in a new era of intelligent systems that expand our horizons.

Remember that OnGraph is here to help realize your ideas in the exciting realm of neural networks. Our team of experts specializes in developing neural network and deep learning-powered software applications that can elevate your business and reshape your industry.

Partner with OnGraph and let’s go on this exciting journey together, letting AI live up to its full promise and making the future smarter and more innovative for everyone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zahwah Jameel

A software engineer with a deep interest in writing blogs and web content on various tech stacks.

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