What is Backpropagation? Backpropagation Explained.
Backpropagation is a fundamental algorithm used in training artificial neural networks (ANNs) through supervised learning. It is used to update the weights of the network based on the difference between the predicted output and the desired output.
The backpropagation algorithm works by propagating the error gradient backward through the network, from the output layer to the input layer. The key idea is to adjust the weights of the network in a way that minimizes the error between the predicted output and the desired output.
Here’s a step-by-step overview of the backpropagation algorithm:
Forward pass: During the forward pass, the input data is fed into the network, and the activations and outputs of each layer are calculated sequentially. Starting from the input layer, the activations of each neuron in the network are computed using the current weights.
Error calculation: Once the output layer is reached, the error between the predicted output and the desired output is calculated using a predefined error function, such as mean squared error (MSE) or cross-entropy loss. This error is then used as a starting point to propagate the error gradient backward through the network.
Backward pass: The error gradient is calculated for each neuron in the output layer. This gradient represents the contribution of each neuron to the overall error. The gradient is then propagated back to the previous layers, and the gradients for those layers are calculated based on the gradients of the subsequent layers. This process continues until the gradients are calculated for all the layers in the network.
Weight update: With the gradients calculated, the weights of the network are updated to minimize the error. The weights are adjusted in the opposite direction of the gradient, which means decreasing the weights if the gradient is positive and increasing them if the gradient is negative. The magnitude of the weight update is determined by the learning rate, which controls the step size in the weight update process.
Repeat: Steps 1 to 4 are repeated for each training example in the dataset, allowing the network to iteratively learn from the data. This process is known as an epoch. Multiple epochs can be performed to further refine the weights and improve the network’s performance.
Backpropagation leverages the chain rule of calculus to compute the gradients efficiently. By iteratively adjusting the weights based on the error gradients, the network gradually improves its ability to make accurate predictions. It is a cornerstone algorithm in training deep neural networks and has been instrumental in many successful applications of ANNs, such as image recognition, natural language processing, and reinforcement learning.
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