Pundits often describe deep learning as an imitation of the human brain. But it’s really just simple math executed on an enormous scale.


Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, which is a vibrant research area in artificial intelligence, or AI. Abstractly, machine learning is an approach to approximating functions based on a collection of data points. For example, given the sequence “2, 4, 6,…” a machine might predict that the 4th element of the sequence is 8, and that the 5th is 10, by hypothesizing that the sequence is capturing the behavior of the function 2 times X, where X is the position of the element in the sequence. This paradigm is quite general. It has been highly successful in applications ranging from self-driving cars and speech recognition to anticipating airfare fluctuations and much more.


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