Deep learning (also known as deep structured learning or hierarchical learning) is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks. Learning can be supervised, semi-supervised or unsupervised.
Deep learning architectures such as deep neural networks, deep belief networks, recurrent neural networks and convolutional neural networks have been applied to fields including computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing, audio recognition, social network filtering, machine translation, bioinformatics, drug design, medical image analysis, material inspection and board game programs, where they have produced results comparable to and in some cases superior to human experts.
Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) were inspired by information processing and distributed communication nodes in biological systems. ANNs have various differences from biological brains. Specifically, neural networks tend to be static and symbolic, while the biological brain of most living organisms is dynamic (plastic) and analog.
Deep learning is a class of machine learning algorithms that(pp199–200) uses multiple layers to progressively extract higher level features from the raw input. For example, in image processing, lower layers may identify edges, while higher layers may identify the concepts relevant to a human such as digits or letters or faces.
Most modern deep learning models are based on artificial neural networks, specifically, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN)s, although they can also include propositional formulas or latent variables organized layer-wise in deep generative models such as the nodes in deep belief networks and deep Boltzmann machines.
In deep learning, each level learns to transform its input data into a slightly more abstract and composite representation. In an image recognition application, the raw input may be a matrix of pixels; the first representational layer may abstract the pixels and encode edges; the second layer may compose and encode arrangements of edges; the third layer may encode a nose and eyes; and the fourth layer may recognize that the image contains a face. Importantly, a deep learning process can learn which features to optimally place in which level on its own. (Of course, this does not completely eliminate the need for hand-tuning; for example, varying numbers of layers and layer sizes can provide different degrees of abstraction.)
The word "deep" in "deep learning" refers to the number of layers through which the data is transformed. More precisely, deep learning systems have a substantial credit assignment path (CAP) depth. The CAP is the chain of transformations from input to output. CAPs describe potentially causal connections between input and output. For a feedforward neural network, the depth of the CAPs is that of the network and is the number of hidden layers plus one (as the output layer is also parameterized). For recurrent neural networks, in which a signal may propagate through a layer more than once, the CAP depth is potentially unlimited. No universally agreed upon threshold of depth divides shallow learning from deep learning, but most researchers agree that deep learning involves CAP depth higher than 2. CAP of depth 2 has been shown to be a universal approximator in the sense that it can emulate any function. Beyond that, more layers do not add to the function approximator ability of the network. Deep models (CAP > 2) are able to extract better features than shallow models and hence, extra layers help in learning the features effectively.
Deep learning architectures can be constructed with a greedy layer-by-layer method. Deep learning helps to disentangle these abstractions and pick out which features improve performance.
For supervised learning tasks, deep learning methods eliminate feature engineering, by translating the data into compact intermediate representations akin to principal components, and derive layered structures that remove redundancy in representation.
Deep learning algorithms can be applied to unsupervised learning tasks. This is an important benefit because unlabeled data are more abundant than the labeled data. Examples of deep structures that can be trained in an unsupervised manner are neural history compressors and deep belief networks.
Deep neural networks are generally interpreted in terms of the universal approximation theorem or probabilistic inference.
The classic universal approximation theorem concerns the capacity of feedforward neural networks with a single hidden layer of finite size to approximate continuous functions. In 1989, the first proof was published by George Cybenko for sigmoid activation functions and was generalised to feed-forward multi-layer architectures in 1991 by Kurt Hornik. Recent work also showed that universal approximation also holds for non-bounded activation functions such as the rectified linear unit.
The universal approximation theorem for deep neural networks concerns the capacity of networks with bounded width but the depth is allowed to grow. Lu et al. proved that if the width of a deep neural network with ReLU activation is strictly larger than the input dimension, then the network can approximate any Lebesgue integrable function; If the width is smaller or equal to the input dimension, then deep neural network is not a universal approximator.
The probabilistic interpretation derives from the field of machine learning. It features inference, as well as the optimization concepts of training and testing, related to fitting and generalization, respectively. More specifically, the probabilistic interpretation considers the activation nonlinearity as a cumulative distribution function. The probabilistic interpretation led to the introduction of dropout as regularizer in neural networks. The probabilistic interpretation was introduced by researchers including Hopfield, Widrow and Narendra and popularized in surveys such as the one by Bishop.