Thursday, February 7, 2008

Artificial Neural Networks Technology

Artificial Neural Networks are relatively crude electronic models based on the neural structure of the brain. The brain basically learns from experience. It is natural proof that some problems that are beyond the scope of current computers are indeed solvable by small energy efficient packages. This brain modeling also promises a less technical way to develop machine solutions. This new approach to computing also provides a more graceful degradation during system overload than its more traditional counterparts.
These biologically inspired methods of computing are thought to be the next major advancement in the computing industry. Even simple animal brains are capable of functions that are currently impossible for computers. Computers do rote things well, like keeping ledgers or performing complex math. But computers have trouble recognizing even simple patterns much less generalizing those patterns of the past into actions of the future.
Now, advances in biological research promise an initial understanding of the natural thinking mechanism. This research shows that brains store information as patterns. Some of these patterns are very complicated and allow us the ability to recognize individual faces from many different angles. This process of storing information as patterns, utilizing those patterns, and then solving problems encompasses a new field in computing. This field, as mentioned before, does not utilize traditional programming but involves the creation of massively parallel networks and the training of those networks to solve specific problems. This field also utilizes words very different from traditional computing, words like behave, react, self-organize, learn, generalize, and forget.
2.1 Analogy to the BrainThe exact workings of the human brain are still a mystery. Yet, some aspects of this amazing processor are known. In particular, the most basic element of the human brain is a specific type of cell which, unlike the rest of the body, doesn't appear to regenerate. Because this type of cell is the only part of the body that isn't slowly replaced, it is assumed that these cells are what provides us with our abilities to remember, think, and apply previous experiences to our every action. These cells, all 100 billion of them, are known as neurons. Each of these neurons can connect with up to 200,000 other neurons, although 1,000 to 10,000 is typical.
The power of the human mind comes from the sheer numbers of these basic components and the multiple connections between them. It also comes from genetic programming and learning.
The individual neurons are complicated. They have a myriad of parts, sub-systems, and control mechanisms. They convey information via a host of electrochemical pathways. There are over one hundred different classes of neurons, depending on the classification method used. Together these neurons and their connections form a process which is not binary, not stable, and not synchronous. In short, it is nothing like the currently available electronic computers, or even artificial neural networks.
These artificial neural networks try to replicate only the most basic elements of this complicated, versatile, and powerful organism. They do it in a primitive way. But for the software engineer who is trying to solve problems, neural computing was never about replicating human brains. It is about machines and a new way to solve problems.

Neural Network

An Artificial Neural Network (ANN) is an information processing paradigm that is inspired by the way biological nervous systems, such as the brain, process information. The key element of this paradigm is the novel structure of the information processing system. It is composed of a large number of highly interconnected processing elements (neurones) working in unison to solve specific problems. ANNs, like people, learn by example. An ANN is configured for a specific application, such as pattern recognition or data classification, through a learning process. Learning in biological systems involves adjustments to the synaptic connections that exist between the neurones. This is true of ANNs as well.

Neural networks versus conventional computers :
Neural networks take a different approach to problem solving than that of conventional computers. Conventional computers use an algorithmic approach i.e. the computer follows a set of instructions in order to solve a problem. Unless the specific steps that the computer needs to follow are known the computer cannot solve the problem. That restricts the problem solving capability of conventional computers to problems that we already understand and know how to solve. But computers would be so much more useful if they could do things that we don't exactly know how to do.
Neural networks process information in a similar way the human brain does. The network is composed of a large number of highly interconnected processing elements(neurones) working in parallel to solve a specific problem. Neural networks learn by example. They cannot be programmed to perform a specific task. The examples must be selected carefully otherwise useful time is wasted or even worse the network might be functioning incorrectly. The disadvantage is that because the network finds out how to solve the problem by itself, its operation can be unpredictable.
On the other hand, conventional computers use a cognitive approach to problem solving; the way the problem is to solved must be known and stated in small unambiguous instructions. These instructions are then converted to a high level language program and then into machine code that the computer can understand. These machines are totally predictable; if anything goes wrong is due to a software or hardware fault.
Neural networks and conventional algorithmic computers are not in competition but complement each other. There are tasks are more suited to an algorithmic approach like arithmetic operations and tasks that are more suited to neural networks. Even more, a large number of tasks, require systems that use a combination of the two approaches (normally a conventional computer is used to supervise the neural network) in order to perform at maximum efficiency.

A Definition of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the study, design, creation, synthesis, manipulation, and
application of functional materials, devices, and systems through control of
matter at the nanometer scale (1–100 nanometers, one nanometer being
equal to 1 × 10−9 of a meter), that is, at the atomic and molecular levels, and the
exploitation of novel phenomena and properties of matter at that scale.

Nanotechnology can be harnessed to address some
of the world’s most critical development problems. However, to
our knowledge, there has been no systematic prioritization of applications
of nanotechnology targeted toward these challenges faced by the 5 billion
people living in the developing world. In this article, we aim to convey
three key messages. First, we show that developing countries are already
harnessing nanotechnology to address some of their most pressing needs.
Second, we identify and rank the ten applications of nanotechnology
most likely to benefit developing countries, and demonstrate that
these applications can contribute to the attainment of the United
Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Third, we propose a
way for the international community to accelerate the use of these top
nanotechnologies by less industrialized countries to meet critical sustainable
development challenges.