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Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Warren S. Sarle, Cary, NC, USA. --------------------------------------------------------------- Additions, corrections, or improvements are always welcome. Anybody who is willing to contribute any information, please email me; if it is relevant, I will incorporate it. The monthly posting departs around the 28th of every month. --------------------------------------------------------------- This is the first of seven parts of a monthly posting to the Usenet newsgroup comp.ai.neural-nets (as well as and , where it should be findable at any time). Its purpose is to provide basic information for individuals who are new to the field of neural networks or who are just beginning to read this group. It will help to avoid lengthy discussion of questions that often arise for beginners. SO, PLEASE, SEARCH THIS POSTING FIRST IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION and DON'T POST ANSWERS TO FAQs: POINT THE ASKER TO THIS POSTING The latest version of the FAQ is available as a hypertext document, readable by any WWW (World Wide Web) browser such as Netscape, under the URL: ftp://ftp.sas.com/pub/neural/FAQ.html. If you are reading the version of the FAQ posted in comp.ai.neural-nets, be sure to view it with a monospace font such as Courier. If you view it with a proportional font, tables and formulas will be mangled. Some newsreaders or WWW news services garble plain text. If you have trouble viewing plain text, try the HTML version described above. All seven parts of the FAQ can be downloaded from either of the following URLS: ftp://ftp.sas.com/pub/neural/FAQ.html.zip ftp://ftp.sas.com/pub/neural/FAQ.txt.zip These postings are archived in the periodic posting archive on host rtfm.mit.edu (and on some other hosts as well). Look in the anonymous ftp directory "/pub/usenet/news.answers/ai-faq/neural-nets" under the file names "part1", "part2", ... "part7". If you do not have anonymous ftp access, you can access the archives by mail server as well. Send an E-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org with "help" and "index" in the body on separate lines for more information. For those of you who read this FAQ anywhere other than in Usenet: To read comp.ai.neural-nets (or post articles to it) you need Usenet News access. Try the commands, 'xrn', 'rn', 'nn', or 'trn' on your Unix machine, 'news' on your VMS machine, or ask a local guru. WWW browsers are often set up for Usenet access, too--try the URL news:comp.ai.neural-nets. The FAQ posting departs to comp.ai.neural-nets around the 28th of every month. It is also sent to the groups and where it should be available at any time (ask your news manager). The FAQ posting, like any other posting, may a take a few days to find its way over Usenet to your site. Such delays are especially common outside of North America. All changes to the FAQ from the previous month are shown in another monthly posting having the subject `changes to "comp.ai.neural-nets FAQ" -- monthly posting', which immediately follows the FAQ posting. The `changes' post contains the full text of all changes and can also be found at ftp://ftp.sas.com/pub/neural/changes.txt . There is also a weekly post with the subject "comp.ai.neural-nets FAQ: weekly reminder" that briefly describes any major changes to the FAQ. This FAQ is not meant to discuss any topic exhaustively. It is neither a tutorial nor a textbook, but should be viewed as a supplement to the many excellent books and online resources described in Part 4: Books, data, etc.. Disclaimer: This posting is provided 'as is'. No warranty whatsoever is expressed or implied, in particular, no warranty that the information contained herein is correct or useful in any way, although both are intended. To find the answer of question "x", search for the string "Subject: x" ========== Questions ========== ******************************** Part 1: Introduction What is this newsgroup for? How shall it be used? Where is comp.ai.neural-nets archived? What if my question is not answered in the FAQ? May I copy this FAQ? What is a neural network (NN)? Where can I find a simple introduction to NNs? Are there any online books about NNs? What can you do with an NN and what not? Who is concerned with NNs? How many kinds of NNs exist? How many kinds of Kohonen networks exist? (And what is k-means?) VQ: Vector Quantization and k-means SOM: Self-Organizing Map LVQ: Learning Vector Quantization Other Kohonen networks and references How are layers counted? What are cases and variables? What are the population, sample, training set, design set, validation set, and test set? How are NNs related to statistical methods? Part 2: Learning What are combination, activation, error, and objective functions? What are batch, incremental, on-line, off-line, deterministic, stochastic, adaptive, instantaneous, pattern, epoch, constructive, and sequential learning? What is backprop? What learning rate should be used for backprop? What are conjugate gradients, Levenberg-Marquardt, etc.? How does ill-conditioning affect NN training? How should categories be encoded? Why not code binary inputs as 0 and 1? Why use a bias/threshold? Why use activation functions? How to avoid overflow in the logistic function? What is a softmax activation function? What is the curse of dimensionality? How do MLPs compare with RBFs? What are OLS and subset/stepwise regression? Should I normalize/standardize/rescale the data? Should I nonlinearly transform the data? How to measure importance of inputs? What is ART? What is PNN? What is GRNN? What does unsupervised learning learn? Help! My NN won't learn! What should I do? Part 3: Generalization How is generalization possible? How does noise affect generalization? What is overfitting and how can I avoid it? What is jitter? (Training with noise) What is early stopping? What is weight decay? What is Bayesian learning? How to combine networks? How many hidden layers should I use? How many hidden units should I use? How can generalization error be estimated? What are cross-validation and bootstrapping? How to compute prediction and confidence intervals (error bars)? Part 4: Books, data, etc. Books and articles about Neural Networks? Journals and magazines about Neural Networks? Conferences and Workshops on Neural Networks? Neural Network Associations? Mailing lists, BBS, CD-ROM? How to benchmark learning methods? Databases for experimentation with NNs? Part 5: Free software Source code on the web? Freeware and shareware packages for NN simulation? Part 6: Commercial software Commercial software packages for NN simulation? Part 7: Hardware and miscellaneous Neural Network hardware? What are some applications of NNs? General Agriculture Chemistry Face recognition Finance and economics Games, sports, gambling Industry Materials science Medicine Music Robotics Weather forecasting Weird What to do with missing/incomplete data? How to forecast time series (temporal sequences)? How to learn an inverse of a function? How to get invariant recognition of images under translation, rotation, etc.? How to recognize handwritten characters? What about pulsed or spiking NNs? What about Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Computation? What about Fuzzy Logic? Unanswered FAQs Other NN links?