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Deep Learning Hunts for Signals Among the Noise


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Over the past decade, advances in deep learning have transformed the fortunes of the artificial intelligence (AI) community. The neural network approach that researchers had largely written off by the end of the 1990s now seems likely to become the most widespread technology in machine learning. However, protagonists find it difficult to explain why deep learning often works well, but is prone to seemingly bizarre failures.

The success of deep learning came with rapid improvements in computational power that came through the development of highly parallelized microprocessors and the discovery of ways to train networks with enormous numbers of virtual neurons assembled into tens of linked layers. Before these advances, neural networks were limited to simple structures that were easily outclassed in image and audio classification tasks by other machine-learning architectures such as support vector machines.


 

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