Mini Book Review: Artificial Intelligence for Humans, Volume 3: Deep Learning and Neural Networks

The book

Artificial Intelligence for Humans, Volume 3: Deep Learning and Neural Networks. I read this one a good while back but have been meaning to revisit it to see if there’s anything I missed.

cover

Contents

Jeff Heaton’s book provides an overview of the major Neural Network models in common use as well as a summary of deep learning. It also gives a simple explanation of training algorithms and where they are appropriate. As a relative beginner to the topic, I felt like I was the exact target audience.

Where it goes right

Although 345 pages can be made to seem long if the topic is dry, this one is definitely an easy read. As opposed to other materials on the subject, the author kept the maths very light. If you’re looking to be able to hold a conversation about what a neural net does and why you might use them then this is the book for you. Although I had been studying neural nets and machine learning before picking it up, I felt like certain concepts were explained very well and hearing them in plain english helped reinforce my understanding.
Another way I personally benefited was Heaton’s discussion of trends. As a hobbyist, it’s great to see why certain ideas or algorithms have gone out of favour by the people who use this stuff day in day out.

Where it goes wrong

It’s all a little too simplistic. I came away from it understanding everything I had been told, but was left wanting. A few more chapters that took the level of detail to the next level would have been great. I think anyone who already has a good fundamental understanding of neural nets (i.e. have implemented a few) and machine learning is not going to get much out of this volume. If there had been more concrete examples I think it would have been a bonus. Although it’s in the title, I also felt that deep learning could have been more in depth, although I’d let that slide given how much it’s evolving.

Score

Solid 4.0/5. Like I said, I’ve been meaning to re-read it which is a good sign. The “ELI5” approach helped certain concepts that I had already come across sink in, but it wasn’t revolutionary.

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