The term neural network was traditionally used to refer to a network or circuit of biological neurons. The modern usage of the term often refers to artificial neural networks, which are composed of artificial neurons or nodes. Thus the term has two distinct usages:
- Biological neural networks are made up of real biological neurons that are connected or functionally related in a nervous system. In the field of neuroscience, they are often identified as groups of neurons that perform a specific physiological function in laboratory analysis.
- Artificial neural networks are composed of interconnecting artificial neurons (programming constructs that mimic the properties of biological neurons). Artificial neural networks may either be used to gain an understanding of biological neural networks, or for solving artificial intelligence problems without necessarily creating a model of a real biological system. The real, biological nervous system is highly complex: artificial neural network algorithms attempt to abstract this complexity and focus on what may hypothetically matter most from an information processing point of view. Good performance (e.g. as measured by good predictive ability, low generalization error), or performance mimicking animal or human error patterns, can then be used as one source of evidence towards supporting the hypothesis that the abstraction really captured something important from the point of view of information processing in the brain. Another incentive for these abstractions is to reduce the amount of computation required to simulate artificial neural networks, so as to allow one to experiment with larger networks and train them on larger data sets.
Famous quotes containing the word network:
“Parents need all the help they can get. The strongest as well as the most fragile family requires a vital network of social supports.”
—Bernice Weissbourd (20th century)