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Blog / AI, AI Explained / Neural Network: Artificial Intelligence Explained

Neural Network: Artificial Intelligence Explained

Feb. 16, 2024
12 min
Category: AI, AI Explained
Nathan Robinson
Nathan Robinson
Product Owner
Nathan is a product leader with proven success in defining and building B2B, B2C, and B2B2C mobile, web, and wearable products. These products are used by millions and available in numerous languages and countries. Following his time at IBM Watson, he 's focused on developing products that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning, earning accolades such as Forbes' Tech to Watch and TechCrunch's Top AI Products.

In the realm of artificial intelligence, one of the most significant and influential concepts is the neural network. This term, often used interchangeably with ‘artificial neural network’, refers to a system of algorithms that is designed to recognize patterns. They interpret sensory data through a kind of machine perception, labeling or clustering raw input. The patterns they recognize are numerical, contained in vectors, into which all real-world data, be it images, sound, text or time series, must be translated.

Neural networks are a key part of artificial intelligence (AI), as they provide the ability for machines to learn and make decisions, much like a human brain. They are used in a variety of applications, from simple tasks like filtering spam emails, to complex tasks like self-driving cars. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of neural networks, exploring their structure, functionality, types, and applications, as well as their role in the broader field of AI.

Understanding Neural Networks

Neural networks are inspired by the structure and function of the human brain. Just as the human brain consists of billions of interconnected neurons that transmit and process information, a neural network consists of layers of artificial neurons, or nodes, that process input data. Each node in a layer receives input from the nodes in the previous layer, processes that input, and passes the output to the nodes in the next layer.

The power of neural networks lies in their ability to learn from experience. This is achieved through a process called training, in which the network is presented with a large amount of input data and the corresponding output data. The network adjusts the weights of its connections based on the difference between its predicted output and the actual output, gradually improving its performance over time.

The Structure of Neural Networks

A typical neural network consists of three types of layers: the input layer, the hidden layer(s), and the output layer. The input layer receives the raw input data, the hidden layer(s) process the data, and the output layer produces the final output. Each layer consists of multiple nodes, and each node is connected to all the nodes in the previous and next layers.

The connections between the nodes are weighted, meaning that they have a numerical value that determines the strength of the connection. These weights are adjusted during the training process to minimize the difference between the predicted output and the actual output. The process of adjusting the weights is guided by a learning algorithm, which determines how much each weight should be adjusted based on the error of the network’s predictions.

Functionality of Neural Networks

The functionality of a neural network is determined by its structure and the learning algorithm it uses. The structure determines how the input data is processed and transformed into output, while the learning algorithm determines how the network learns from its mistakes and improves its performance over time.

One of the key features of neural networks is their ability to handle non-linear data. This means that they can model complex relationships between inputs and outputs that are not easily captured by traditional linear models. This makes neural networks particularly useful for tasks like image recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing, where the relationship between the input data and the desired output is often complex and non-linear.

Types of Neural Networks

There are several types of neural networks, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The type of neural network used for a particular task depends on the nature of the task and the specific requirements of the application.

The most common types of neural networks include feedforward neural networks, recurrent neural networks, convolutional neural networks, and deep neural networks. Each of these types has a different structure and uses a different learning algorithm, making them suitable for different types of tasks.

Feedforward Neural Networks

Feedforward neural networks are the simplest type of neural network. In a feedforward network, the information moves in only one direction, from the input layer, through the hidden layer(s), to the output layer. There are no loops in the network, meaning that the output of any layer does not affect that same layer.

Feedforward neural networks are widely used in pattern recognition tasks, such as image recognition and speech recognition. They are also used in regression tasks, where the goal is to predict a continuous output variable based on a set of input variables.

Recurrent Neural Networks

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are a type of neural network where connections between nodes form a directed graph along a sequence. This allows them to use their internal state (memory) to process sequences of inputs. This makes RNNs particularly useful for tasks that involve sequential data, such as time series prediction and natural language processing.

RNNs have a major advantage over feedforward networks in that they can use their internal memory to process arbitrary sequences of inputs. However, they also have a major disadvantage in that they can be difficult to train effectively. This is due to the so-called “vanishing gradient” problem, where the gradient of the loss function becomes very small, making the weights of the network difficult to update effectively.

Applications of Neural Networks

Neural networks have a wide range of applications in various fields, from computer science and engineering to finance and healthcare. They are used in tasks that require pattern recognition, prediction, optimization, and control.

In computer science, neural networks are used in tasks like image recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing. In engineering, they are used in tasks like system control and optimization. In finance, they are used in tasks like stock market prediction and credit risk assessment. In healthcare, they are used in tasks like disease diagnosis and drug discovery.

Neural Networks in Computer Science

In the field of computer science, neural networks have revolutionized the way we interact with technology. They are at the heart of many of the most advanced technologies we use today, from voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, to recommendation systems like those used by Netflix and Amazon.

One of the most significant applications of neural networks in computer science is in the field of computer vision, where they are used to recognize and interpret images. This has led to breakthroughs in technologies like facial recognition, object detection, and image synthesis.

Neural Networks in Healthcare

In the healthcare sector, neural networks are used to analyze medical images, predict disease progression, and personalize treatment plans. They are used in radiology to detect anomalies in medical images, in genomics to predict the risk of genetic diseases, and in drug discovery to identify potential new drugs.

One of the most promising applications of neural networks in healthcare is in the field of personalized medicine, where they are used to predict a patient’s response to treatment based on their genetic profile and medical history. This has the potential to revolutionize healthcare by enabling doctors to tailor treatments to individual patients, improving outcomes and reducing costs.

Neural Networks & Artificial Intelligence

Neural networks play a crucial role in the field of artificial intelligence. They provide the foundation for many of the most advanced AI technologies, from machine learning and deep learning to natural language processing and computer vision.

AI technologies powered by neural networks are capable of learning from experience, recognizing complex patterns, making predictions, and making decisions. This makes them incredibly powerful tools for solving complex problems and creating intelligent systems.

Neural Networks in Machine Learning

Machine learning is a branch of AI that focuses on the development of algorithms that allow computers to learn from and make decisions based on data. Neural networks are a key component of many machine learning algorithms, providing the ability to learn complex patterns and make accurate predictions.

Neural networks are used in a variety of machine learning tasks, from supervised learning, where the network is trained on a labeled dataset, to unsupervised learning, where the network is trained on an unlabeled dataset, to reinforcement learning, where the network learns by interacting with its environment.

Neural Networks in Deep Learning

Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning that focuses on algorithms based on artificial neural networks, particularly deep neural networks. Deep neural networks are neural networks with many layers, which allows them to model complex, high-level abstractions in data.

Deep learning has been responsible for many of the recent breakthroughs in AI, from the development of advanced image recognition systems, to the creation of sophisticated natural language processing technologies. It is the driving force behind many of the most exciting developments in AI, and is likely to continue to be a major area of research and development in the coming years.

Unlock the Potential of Neural Networks with WestLink

As you delve into the transformative world of neural networks and AI, consider partnering with WestLink to bring your innovative ideas to life. With over 7 years of experience, our team of 75+ developers has empowered 100+ happy clients, including leading names like Salesforce and Uber, by developing cutting-edge, cloud native software solutions. Whether you’re exploring advanced machine learning, deep learning, or looking to harness the power of big data and IoT, WestLink’s award-winning expertise in AI development, machine learning, and cloud software consulting can help you achieve your goals. Our commitment to excellence is reflected in our 5 Star Reviews on Clutch.com. Ready to transform your company with robust, scalable, and cross-device solutions? Learn more about how WestLink can augment your team and elevate your projects to the next level.

Nathan Robinson
Nathan Robinson
Product Owner
Nathan is a product leader with proven success in defining and building B2B, B2C, and B2B2C mobile, web, and wearable products. These products are used by millions and available in numerous languages and countries. Following his time at IBM Watson, he 's focused on developing products that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning, earning accolades such as Forbes' Tech to Watch and TechCrunch's Top AI Products.

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denis
denis
2 months ago

Test