I read with interest the recent paper out of Baidu about scaling up image recognition. In it they talk about creating a supercomputer to carry out the learning phase of training a deep convolutional network. Training such things is terribly slow, with their typical example taking 212 hours on a single GPU machine because of the enormous number of weight computations that need to be evaluated and the slow stochastic gradient process over large training sets.
Baidu has built a dedicated machine with 36 servers connected by an InfiniBand switch, each server with four GPUs. In the paper they describe different ways of partitioning the problem to run on this machine. They end up being able to train the model using 32 GPUs in 8.6 hours.
In recent years the concept of deep learning has been gaining widespread attention. The media frequently reports on talent acquisitions in this field, such as those by Google and Facebook, and startups which claim to employ deep learning are met with enthusiasm. Gratuitous comparisons with the human brain are frequent. But is this just a trendy buzz word? What exactly is deep learning and how is it relevant to developments in machine intelligence?
For many researchers, deep learning is simply a continuation of the multi-decade advancement in our ability to make use of large scale neural networks. Let’s first take a quick tour of the problems that neural networks and related technologies are trying to solve, and later we will examine the deep learning architectures in greater detail.
Machine learning generally breaks down into two application areas which are closely related: classification and regression. Continue reading