Home | Search Serendip
A Serendip experience
Simple Networks, Simple Rules: Learning and Creating - 6/6

The bottom line ... and beyond

We started by wondering whether simple things interacting in simple ways could learn. And the answer is yes. So its certainly not true that computers can do only what they are told to do. Or, at least, its not true that one has to tell them explicity what to do for every example of what you want. You can give them a general set of operating instructions, and a few specific examples, and the computer will not only learn the specific examples but use these to itself create a rule, a categorizing scheme, that it can apply to additional cases.

What's particularly interesting is that the rule the computer creates may or may not be the one you had in mind. You might have had in mind that the shorter and thinner something gets, the more it should be called a rabbit (like one scheme the computer came up with), but the examples experienced are, for the computer, equally consistent with most things, even quite short and thin things, being elephants. This may seem silly, but it actually says something quite important about how many different solutions there are to particular problems, about the extent to which experience can account for observed generalizations, and probably about brains and people as well.


Going Beyond

Rosenblatt's Perceptron Learning Algorithm, a Java implementation which allows exploration of variations in learning parameters

Neural Nets, on line version of a book by Kevin Gurney, Psychology Department, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

An Introduction to Neural Networks, by Leslie Smith, Centre for Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, University of Stirling, United Kingdom

Neural Computing, course notes from Department of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Backpropagator's Review, by Don Tveter

Showcase, from Intelligent Financial Systems Ltd, includes examples of practical neural net use and some Java tutorials illustrating back-propagation networks.

FAQ for comp.ai.neural-nets newsgroup

Links related to neural networks and other simple interacting systems capable of learning are available from Artificial Life On Line

A Brief Introduction to Genetic Algorithms, by Moshe Sipper, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

The first few chapter of James' Textbook of Psychology are available on line, together with the texts of several articles by him, at Classics in the History of Psychology, from York University, Canada

William James, an extensive web resource by Frank Pajares, Division of Educational Studies, Emory University

Mind and Body: Rene Descartes to William James, by Robert Wozniak, Department of Psychology, Bryn Mawr College

Science Education, from Serendip

I'm intrigued. Can I go back to the beginning, please?

Written by Paul Grobstein. Applet by Bogdan Butoi.

| Forum | Complexity | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 05-Mar-2003 17:05:04 EST