Chapter 10. Introduction to Artificial Neural Networks with Keras

Birds inspired us to fly, burdock plants inspired Velcro, and nature has inspired countless more inventions. It seems only logical, then, to look at the brain’s architecture for inspiration on how to build an intelligent machine. This is the logic that sparked artificial neural networks (ANNs): an ANN is a Machine Learning model inspired by the networks of biological neurons found in our brains. However, although planes were inspired by birds, they don’t have to flap their wings. Similarly, ANNs have gradually become quite different from their biological cousins. Some researchers even argue that we should drop the biological analogy altogether (e.g., by saying “units” rather than “neurons”), lest we restrict our creativity to biologically plausible systems.1

ANNs are at the very core of Deep Learning. They are versatile, powerful, and scalable, making them ideal to tackle large and highly complex Machine Learning tasks such as classifying billions of images (e.g., Google Images), powering speech recognition services (e.g., Apple’s Siri), recommending the best videos to watch to hundreds of millions of users every day (e.g., YouTube), or learning to beat the world champion at the game of Go (DeepMind’s AlphaGo).

The first part of this chapter introduces artificial neural networks, starting with a quick tour of the very first ANN architectures and leading up to Multilayer Perceptrons (MLPs), which are heavily used ...

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