Artificial Neural Network

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What Does Artificial Neural Network Mean?

An artificial neuron network (neural network) is a computational model that mimics the way nerve cells work in the human brain.


Artificial neural networks (ANNs) use learning algorithms that can independently make adjustments – or learn, in a sense – as they receive new input. This makes them a very effective tool for non-linear statistical data modeling.

Deep learning ANNs play an important role in machine learning (ML) and support the broader field of artificial intelligence (AI) technology.


Techopedia Explains Artificial Neural Network

An artificial neural network has three or more layers that are interconnected. The first layer consists of input neurons. Those neurons send data on to the deeper layers, which in turn will send the final output data to the last output layer.

All the inner layers are hidden and are formed by units which adaptively change the information received from layer to layer through a series of transformations. Each layer acts both as an input and output layer that allows the ANN to understand more complex objects. Collectively, these inner layers are called the neural layer.

The units in the neural layer try to learn about the information gathered by weighing it according to the ANN’s internal system. These guidelines allow units to generate a transformed result, which is then provided as an output to the next layer.

An additional set of learning rules makes use of backpropagation, a process through which the ANN can adjust its output results by taking errors into account. Through backpropagation, each time the output is labeled as an error during the supervised training phase, the information is sent backward. Each weight is updated proportionally to how much they were responsible for the error.

Hence, the error is used to recalibrate the weight of the ANN’s unit connections to take into account the difference between the desired outcome and the actual one. In due time, the ANN will “learn” how to minimize the chance for errors and unwanted results.

Training an artificial neural network involves choosing from allowed models for which there are several associated algorithms.

An ANN has several advantages but one of the most recognized of these is the fact that it can actually learn from observing data sets. In this way, ANN is used as a random function approximation tool. These types of tools help estimate the most cost-effective and ideal methods for arriving at solutions while defining computing functions or distributions.

ANN takes data samples rather than entire data sets to arrive at solutions, which saves both time and money. ANNs are considered fairly simple mathematical models to enhance existing data analysis technologies.

They can be used for many practical applications, such as predictive analysis in business intelligence, spam email detection, natural language processing in chatbots, and many more.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.