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Introduction To Neural Nets

Ben Gorman has a two-part series introducing neural networks.  First, the basics behind neural networks:

We can solve both of the above issues by adding an extra layer to our perceptron model. We’ll construct a number of base models like the one above, but then we’ll feed the output of each base model as input into another perceptron. This model is in fact a vanilla neural network. Let’s see how it might work on some examples.

Then, he digs into the mathematics of backpropagation:

Our problem is one of binary classification. That means our network could have a single output node that predicts the probability that an incoming image represents stairs. However, we’ll choose to interpret the problem as a multi-class classification problem – one where our output layer has two nodes that represent “probability of stairs” and “probability of something else”. This is unnecessary, but it will give us insight into how we could extend task for more classes. In the future, we may want to classify {“stairs pattern”, “floor pattern”, “ceiling pattern”, or “something else”}.

Our measure of success might be something like accuracy rate, but to implement backpropagation (the fitting procedure) we need to choose a convenient, differentiable loss function like cross entropy. We’ll touch on this more, below.

This is definitely a series to read after you’ve gotten your coffee.