Working Of An Artificial Neural Net

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 28 Apr 2010 17:52 and updated at 29 Apr 2010 07:37

Main Article Neural Nets

The other part of the "art" of using neural networks revolve around the myriad of ways these individual neurons can be clustered together. This clustering occurs in the human mind in such a way that information can be processed in a dynamic, interactive, and self-organizing way. Biologically, neural networks are constructed in a three-dimensional world from microscopic components. These neurons seem capable of nearly unrestricted interconnections. That is not true of any proposed, or existing, man-made network. Integrated circuits, using current technology, are two-dimensional devices with a limited number of layers for interconnection. This physical reality restrains the types, and scope, of artificial neural networks that can be implemented in silicon. Currently, neural networks are the simple clustering of the primitive artificial neurons. This clustering occurs by creating layers which are then connected to one another. How these layers connect is the other part of the "art" of engineering networks to resolve real world problems.

Information flow from Input Layer to Hidden Layers and finally to the Output Layer

Basically, all artificial neural networks have a similar structure or topology as shown. In that structure some of the neurons interface to the real world to receive its inputs. Other neurons provide the real world with the network's outputs. This output might be the particular character that the network thinks that it has scanned or the particular image it thinks is being viewed. All the rest of the neurons are hidden from view. But a neural network is more than a bunch of neurons. Some early researchers tried to simply connect neurons in a random manner, without much success. Now, it is known that even the brains of snails are structured devices. One of the easiest ways to design a structure is to create layers of elements. It is the grouping of these neurons into layers, the connections between these layers, and the summation and transfer functions that comprises a functioning neural network. The general terms used to describe these characteristics are common to all networks.

Although there are useful networks which contain only one layer, or even one element, most applications require networks that contain at least the three normal types of layers - input, hidden, and output. The layer of input neurons receives the data either from input files or directly from electronic sensors in real-time applications. The output layer sends information directly to the outside world, to a secondary computer process, or to other devices such as a mechanical control system. Between these two layers can be many hidden layers. These internal layers contain many of the neurons in various interconnected structures. The inputs and outputs of each of these hidden neurons simply go to other neurons. In most networks each neuron in a hidden layer receives the signals from all of the neurons in a layer above it, typically an input layer. After a neuron performs its function it passes its output to all of the neurons in the layer below it, providing a feedforward path to the output.

These lines of communication from one neuron to another are important aspects of neural networks. They are the glue to the system. They are the connections which provide a variable strength to an input. There are two types of these connections. One causes the summing mechanism of the next neuron to add while the other causes it to subtract. In more human terms one excites while the other inhibits. Some networks want a neuron to inhibit the other neurons in the same layer. This is called lateral inhibition. The most common use of this is in the output layer. For example in text recognition if the probability of a character being a "P" is .85 and the probability of the character being an "F" is .65, the network wants to choose the highest probability and inhibit all the others. It can do that with lateral inhibition. This concept is also called competition. Another type of connection is feedback. This is where the output of one layer routes back to a previous layer.

RecurrentLayerNeuralNetwork.png 400px-Competitive_network.svg.png
Neural Net with Self Feedback Connections Neural Net with Competition or Inhibition Connections

The way that the neurons are connected to each other has a significant impacton the operation of the network. In the larger, more professional software development packages the user is allowed to add, delete, and control these connections at will. By "tweaking" parameters these connections can be made to either excite or inhibit.

Main Article Neural Nets

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