Advances in theory and computer hardware have allowed neural networks to become a core part of online services such as Microsoft's Bing, driving their image-search and speech-recognition systems. The companies offering such capabilities are looking to the technology to drive more advanced services in the future, as they scale up the neural networks to deal with more sophisticated problems.
It has taken time for neural networks, initially conceived 50 years ago, to become accepted parts of information technology applications. After a flurry of interest in the 1990s, supported in part by the development of highly specialized integrated circuits designed to overcome their poor performance on conventional computers, neural networks were outperformed by other algorithms, such as support vector machines in image processing and Gaussian models in speech recognition.
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