Types of Neural Networks and Definition of Neural Network

This blog is custom-tailored to aid your understanding of different types of commonly used neural networks, how they work, and their industry applications. The blog commences with a brief introduction to the working of neural networks. We have tried to keep it very simple yet effective.

Types of neural networks models are listed below:

The nine types of neural networks are:

  • Perceptron
  • Feed Forward Neural Network
  • Multilayer Perceptron
  • Convolutional Neural Network
  • Radial Basis Functional Neural Network
  • Recurrent Neural Network
  • LSTM – Long Short-Term Memory
  • Sequence to Sequence Models
  • Modular Neural Network
types of neural networks

An Introduction to Artificial Neural Network

Neural networks represent deep learning using artificial intelligence. Certain application scenarios are too heavy or out of scope for traditional machine learning algorithms to handle. As they are commonly known, Neural Network pitches in such scenarios and fills the gap. Also, enrol in the neural networks and deep learning course and enhance your skills today.

Artificial neural networks are inspired by the biological neurons within the human body which activate under certain circumstances resulting in a related action performed by the body in response. Artificial neural nets consist of various layers of interconnected artificial neurons powered by activation functions that help in switching them ON/OFF. Like traditional machine algorithms, here too, there are certain values that neural nets learn in the training phase.

Briefly, each neuron receives a multiplied version of inputs and random weights, which is then added with a static bias value (unique to each neuron layer); this is then passed to an appropriate activation function which decides the final value to be given out of the neuron. There are various activation functions available as per the nature of input values. Once the output is generated from the final neural net layer, loss function (input vs output)is calculated, and backpropagation is performed where the weights are adjusted to make the loss minimum. Finding optimal values of weights is what the overall operation focuses around. Please refer to the following for better understanding-

types of neural networks

Weights are numeric values that are multiplied by inputs. In backpropagation, they are modified to reduce the loss. In simple words, weights are machine learned values from Neural Networks. They self-adjust depending on the difference between predicted outputs vs training inputs.
Activation Function is a mathematical formula that helps the neuron to switch ON/OFF.

types of neural networks
  • Input layer represents dimensions of the input vector.
  • Hidden layer represents the intermediary nodes that divide the input space into regions with (soft) boundaries. It takes in a set of weighted input and produces output through an activation function.
  • Output layer represents the output of the neural network.

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Types of Neural Networks

There are many types of neural networks available or that might be in the development stage. They can be classified depending on their: Structure, Data flow, Neurons used and their density, Layers and their depth activation filters etc. Also, learn about the Neural network in R to further your learning.

types of neural networks
Types of Neural network

We are going to discuss the following neural networks:

A. Perceptron

architecture of Perceptron

Perceptron model, proposed by Minsky-Papert is one of the simplest and oldest models of Neuron. It is the smallest unit of neural network that does certain computations to detect features or business intelligence in the input data. It accepts weighted inputs, and apply the activation function to obtain the output as the final result. Perceptron is also known as TLU(threshold logic unit)

Perceptron is a supervised learning algorithm that classifies the data into two categories, thus it is a binary classifier. A perceptron separates the input space into two categories by a hyperplane represented by the following equation:

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Advantages of Perceptron
Perceptrons can implement Logic Gates like AND, OR, or NAND.

Disadvantages of Perceptron
Perceptrons can only learn linearly separable problems such as boolean AND problem. For non-linear problems such as the boolean XOR problem, it does not work.

B. Feed Forward Neural Networks

Applications on Feed Forward Neural Networks:

  • Simple classification (where traditional Machine-learning based classification algorithms have limitations)
  • Face recognition [Simple straight forward image processing]
  • Computer vision [Where target classes are difficult to classify]
  • Speech Recognition

The simplest form of neural networks where input data travels in one direction only, passing through artificial neural nodes and exiting through output nodes. Where hidden layers may or may not be present, input and output layers are present there. Based on this, they can be further classified as a single-layered or multi-layered feed-forward neural network.

Number of layers depends on the complexity of the function. It has uni-directional forward propagation but no backward propagation. Weights are static here. An activation function is fed by inputs which are multiplied by weights. To do so, classifying activation function or step activation function is used. For example: The neuron is activated if it is above threshold (usually 0) and the neuron produces 1 as an output. The neuron is not activated if it is below threshold (usually 0) which is considered as -1. They are fairly simple to maintain and are equipped with to deal with data which contains a lot of noise.

Advantages of Feed Forward Neural Networks

  1. Less complex, easy to design & maintain
  2. Fast and speedy [One-way propagation]
  3. Highly responsive to noisy data

Disadvantages of Feed Forward Neural Networks:

  1. Cannot be used for deep learning [due to absence of dense layers and back propagation]

C. Multilayer Perceptron

types of neural networks

 Applications on Multi-Layer Perceptron

  • Speech Recognition
  • Machine Translation
  • Complex Classification

An entry point towards complex neural nets where input data travels through various layers of artificial neurons. Every single node is connected to all neurons in the next layer which makes it a fully connected neural network. Input and output layers are present having multiple hidden Layers i.e. at least three or more layers in total. It has a bi-directional propagation i.e. forward propagation and backward propagation.

Inputs are multiplied with weights and fed to the activation function and in backpropagation, they are modified to reduce the loss. In simple words, weights are machine learnt values from Neural Networks. They self-adjust depending on the difference between predicted outputs vs training inputs. Nonlinear activation functions are used followed by softmax as an output layer activation function.

Advantages on Multi-Layer Perceptron

  1. Used for deep learning [due to the presence of dense fully connected layers and back propagation] 

Disadvantages on Multi-Layer Perceptron: 

  1. Comparatively complex to design and maintain

Comparatively slow (depends on number of hidden layers)

D. Convolutional Neural Network

types of neural networks

Applications on Convolution Neural Network

Convolution neural network contains a three-dimensional arrangement of neurons instead of the standard two-dimensional array. The first layer is called a convolutional layer. Each neuron in the convolutional layer only processes the information from a small part of the visual field. Input features are taken in batch-wise like a filter. The network understands the images in parts and can compute these operations multiple times to complete the full image processing. Processing involves conversion of the image from RGB or HSI scale to grey-scale. Furthering the changes in the pixel value will help to detect the edges and images can be classified into different categories.

Propagation is uni-directional where CNN contains one or more convolutional layers followed by pooling and bidirectional where the output of convolution layer goes to a fully connected neural network for classifying the images as shown in the above diagram. Filters are used to extract certain parts of the image. In MLP the inputs are multiplied with weights and fed to the activation function. Convolution uses RELU and MLP uses nonlinear activation function followed by softmax. Convolution neural networks show very effective results in image and video recognition, semantic parsing and paraphrase detection.

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Advantages of Convolution Neural Network:

  1. Used for deep learning with few parameters
  2. Less parameters to learn as compared to fully connected layer

Disadvantages of Convolution Neural Network:

  • Comparatively complex to design and maintain
  • Comparatively slow [depends on the number of hidden layers]

E. Radial Basis Function Neural Networks

architecture of Radial Basis Network (RBF)

Radial Basis Function Network consists of an input vector followed by a layer of RBF neurons and an output layer with one node per category. Classification is performed by measuring the input’s similarity to data points from the training set where each neuron stores a prototype. This will be one of the examples from the training set.

When a new input vector [the n-dimensional vector that you are trying to classify] needs to be classified, each neuron calculates the Euclidean distance between the input and its prototype. For example, if we have two classes i.e. class A and Class B, then the new input to be classified is more close to class A prototypes than the class B prototypes. Hence, it could be tagged or classified as class A.

Each RBF neuron compares the input vector to its prototype and outputs a value ranging which is a measure of similarity from 0 to 1. As the input equals to the prototype, the output of that RBF neuron will be 1 and with the distance grows between the input and prototype the response falls off exponentially towards 0. The curve generated out of neuron’s response tends towards a typical bell curve. The output layer consists of a set of neurons [one per category].

types of neural networks
types of neural networks
types of neural networks

Application: Power Restoration
a. Powercut P1 needs to be restored first
b. Powercut P3 needs to be restored next, as it impacts more houses
c. Powercut P2 should be fixed last as it impacts only one house

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F. Recurrent Neural Networks

architecture of Recurrent Neural network

Applications of Recurrent Neural Networks

  • Text processing like auto suggest, grammar checks, etc.
  • Text to speech processing
  • Image tagger
  • Sentiment Analysis
  • Translation

    Designed to save the output of a layer, Recurrent Neural Network is fed back to the input to help in predicting the outcome of the layer. The first layer is typically a feed forward neural network followed by recurrent neural network layer where some information it had in the previous time-step is remembered by a memory function. Forward propagation is implemented in this case. It stores information required for it’s future use. If the prediction is wrong, the learning rate is employed to make small changes. Hence, making it gradually increase towards making the right prediction during the backpropagation.

Advantages of Recurrent Neural Networks

  1. Model sequential data where each sample can be assumed to be dependent on historical ones is one of the advantage.  
  2. Used with convolution layers to extend the pixel effectiveness.

Disadvantages of Recurrent Neural Networks

  1. Gradient vanishing and exploding problems 
  2. Training recurrent neural nets could be a difficult task 
  3. Difficult to process long sequential data using ReLU as an activation function.

Improvement over RNN: LSTM (Long Short-Term Memory) Networks

types of neural networks

LSTM networks are a type of RNN that uses special units in addition to standard units. LSTM units include a ‘memory cell’ that can maintain information in memory for long periods of time. A set of gates is used to control when information enters the memory when it’s output, and when it’s forgotten. There are three types of gates viz, Input gate, output gate and forget gate. Input gate decides how many information from the last sample will be kept in memory; the output gate regulates the amount of data passed to the next layer, and forget gates control the tearing rate of memory stored. This architecture lets them learn longer-term dependencies

This is one of the implementations of LSTM cells, many other architectures exist.

neural network
Source: Research gate

G. Sequence to sequence models


Image result for sequence to sequence learning with neural networks

A sequence to sequence model consists of two Recurrent Neural Networks. Here, there exists an encoder that processes the input and a decoder that processes the output. The encoder and decoder work simultaneously – either using the same parameter or different ones. This model, on contrary to the actual RNN, is particularly applicable in those cases where the length of the input data is equal to the length of the output data. While they possess similar benefits and limitations of the RNN, these models are usually applied mainly in chatbots, machine translations, and question answering systems.

H. Modular Neural Network 

Applications of Modular Neural Network

  1. Stock market prediction systems
  2. Adaptive MNN for character recognitions 
  3. Compression of high level input data

A modular neural network has a number of different networks that function independently and perform sub-tasks. The different networks do not really interact with or signal each other during the computation process. They work independently towards achieving the output.

Image result for modular neural networks

As a result, a large and complex computational process are done significantly faster by breaking it down into independent components. The computation speed increases because the networks are not interacting with or even connected to each other.

Advantages of Modular Neural Network

  1. Efficient
  2. Independent training
  3. Robustness

Disadvantages of Modular Neural Network

  1. Moving target Problems


1. What are the 9 major types of neural networks?

The nine types of neural networks are:

  • Perceptron
  • Feed Forward Neural Network
  • Multilayer Perceptron
  • Convolutional Neural Network
  • Radial Basis Functional Neural Network
  • Recurrent Neural Network
  • LSTM – Long Short-Term Memory
  • Sequence to Sequence Models
  • Modular Neural Network

2. What is neural network and its types?

Neural Networks are artificial networks used in Machine Learning that work in a similar fashion to the human nervous system. Many things are connected in various ways for a neural network to mimic and work like the human brain. Neural networks are basically used in computational models.

3. What is CNN and DNN?

A deep neural network (DNN) is an artificial neural network (ANN) with multiple layers between the input and output layers. They can model complex non-linear relationships. Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) are an alternative type of DNN that allow modelling both time and space correlations in multivariate signals.

4. How does CNN differ from Ann?

CNN is a specific kind of ANN that has one or more layers of convolutional units. The class of ANN covers several architectures including Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN), Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) eg LSTM and GRU, Autoencoders, and Deep Belief Networks.

5. Why is CNN better than MLP?

Multilayer Perceptron (MLP) is great for MNIST as it is a simpler and more straight forward dataset, but it lags when it comes to real-world application in computer vision, specifically image classification as compared to CNN which is great.

Hope you found this interesting! You can check out our blog about Convolutional Neural Network. To learn more about such concepts, take up an artificial intelligence online course and upskill today.

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