Deep Learning Algorithms Comparison

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning (ML) where artificial neural networks (ANNs) algorithms inspired by the human brain can learn directly from large amounts of data. Deep learning utilizes a multi-layered hierarchical level of ANNs to perform the main process of machine learning (feature extraction and classification) and deliver high accuracy in tasks such as self-driving car, speech recognition, object detection, language translation and story generation to name a few.

Deep Learning vs Machine Learning

Deep learning models make use of supervised and unsupervised learning algorithms. While no network architecture is considered perfect, some algorithms are better suited to perform specific tasks. To choose the right ones, it’s good to gain a solid understanding of all the primary algorithms. Now, let us explore and study the comparison of the top deep learning algorithms.

Warning: The comparison table below is best viewed using desktop PC/Laptop (not suitable for mobile phone). However, you can view mobile-friendly (PDF file) here.

Multilayer Perceptron’s (MLPs)
> the most basic deep learning algorithm (with single hidden layer).
> a form of feed forward neural network.
> uses supervised learning technique called backpropagation for training.
> model (example)
> classification problems.
> speech, image recognition & data compression.
> do not make any assumptions regarding the Probability density functions (PDF) unlike the other models which are based on Probability.
> can distinguish data that is not linearly separable.
> when updating the weights in layers, network may be stuck in a local minimum which can hamper accuracy.
> due to the hard-limit transfer function, the perceptrons can only give outputs in the form of 0 and 1.
Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN)
> ConvNet is a popular deep learning algorithm which has hidden layers that perform convolutions.
> has three main types of layers: convolutional (set of filters), pooling (down-sampling), and fully-connected (neurons) layers.
> transform the original image layer by layer from the original pixel values to the final class scores.
> use some regularization techniques like dropout where a particular node or connection is skipped.
> model (example)
> main use-cases in the image recognition and object detection tasks.
> recommender systems.
> natural language processing tasks.
> financial time series forecasting.
> results are more accurate especially for image/object recognition use cases when compared to other ML algorithms.> for training ConvNet, very high computation power is required. Thus, not very cost-effective.
Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs)
> a type of ANNs which uses sequential or time series data.
> a class of neural networks that allow previous outputs to be used as inputs while having hidden states.
> allow the processing of variable-length (or even infinite-length) sequences.
> an output is produced which is coped and provided back to the network like a loop (internal memory).
> model (example)
> mostly used in the fields of natural language processing and speech recognition.
> ideal for tasks such as words auto completion, text recognition and video frames analysis.
> ability of to remember information throughout the training period plays a very pivotal role in time series prediction.
> model size not increasing with size of input.
> possibility of processing input of any length.
> computation is time-taking because of its recurrent nature.
> difficulty of accessing information from a long time ago.
Long Short-Term Memory Networks (LSTMs)
> a special kind of RNN highly capable of learning long-term dependencies.
> network consists of different memory blocks called cells which remember things.
> changes to memory blocks are done through mechanisms referred to as gates.
> model (example)
> ideal for tasks such as sentences auto completion, caption generation and video frames analysis.
> anomaly detection in network traffic data.
> can handle the information in memory for the long period of time as compare to RNN.> high computation and resources are required to train the the model.
> are prone to overfitting.
Restricted Boltzmann Machines (RBMs)
> unsupervised neural network that belongs to energy based model.
> a generative stochastic ANNs that can learn a probability distribution over its set of inputs.
> are shallow, two-layer neural nets that constitute the building blocks of deep-belief networks.
> model (example)
> feature extraction in pattern recognition and recommendation engines.
> classification problems.
> feature learning and topic modeling.
> can be pre-trained in a completely unsupervised way as the learning algorithm can make very efficient use of unlabelled large data.> calculating energy gradient function while training is very difficult.
> adjusting weights using the CD-k algorithm is not as easy as Backpropagation.
Radial Basis Function Networks (RBFNs)
> a simple three-layer feedforward neural network with an input layer, a hidden layer consisting of a number of RBF non-linear activation units, and a linear output layer that acts as a summation unit to give the final output.
> the hidden layer uses an unsupervised learning algorithm (k-means clustering).
> mean squared error (MSE) is used to determine the error and the weights are tweaked accordingly to minimize MSE.
> model (example)
> mostly used for speech recognition, time-series analysis, image recognition adaptive equalization and medical diagnosis.> fast training phase when compared to MLP, as there is no backpropagation involved.>  classification takes time compared to MLP due to every node in the hidden layer has to compute the RBF function for the input sample vector.
Self Organizing Maps (SOMs)
> enable data visualization by reducing the dimensions of data through SOMs network.
> group similar data items together by creating a 1D or 2D map.
> weights are initialized randomly for each node. At each step, one sample vector x is randomly taken from the input data set and the distances between x and all the other vectors are computed.
> model (example)
> useful in the healthcare sector for creating 3D modeling.
> Image analysis, fault diagnosis, process monitoring and control.
> easily interpret and understand the data using SOM.
> dimensionality reduction is simpler to check for any similarities within our data.
> requires neuron weights to be sufficient to cluster the input data.
> while training SOM, if we provide less or extensively more data may not get informative or very accurate output.
Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs)
> unsupervised learning algorithm capable of automatically discovering and learning the patterns in the data.
> GANs consist of two neural networks: a generator neural network that generates new examples and discriminator network responsible for evaluating the generated examples whether they belong to the actual training dataset.
> model (example)
> widely used in the creative industry for 3D object generations.
> useful in editing images (Deepfake), generating cartoon characters, illustrations for novels, articles,etc
> able to learn the internal representation (messy and complex distributions) in any data.
> can recognize objects as well as can calculate the distance between them.
> when generates new data from original data, no evaluation metric to judge the accuracy of output.
> high computation and time required for model training.
> unsupervised algorithm similar to Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to convert multi-dimensional data into low-dimensional data.
> the encoder compresses the input into a latent space representation which can be reconstructed later to get the original input.
> the decoder aims to reconstruct the code to its original form but may not be perfectly accurate as original and might have some loss.
> model (example)
> used in the healthcare industry for medical imaging (breast cancer detection).
> colouring of images, image compression, and denoising.
> usage of multiple encoder and decoder layers  reduce the computational cost of representing some functions to a certain extent.> not efficient as compared to GANs when it comes to reconstructing an image.
> might lose important data from the original input after encoding.
Deep Belief Networks (DBN)
> a networks model built by stacking a number of unsupervised Restricted Boltzmann Machines (RBM) layers.
> uses a layer-by-layer approach for learning all the generative weights and all the top-down approaches.
> networks are pre-trained by using the Greedy algorithm.
> model (example)
> mostly to recognize, cluster, generate images, video sequences and motion-capture data.> can work with even a small labeled dataset.
> provide robustness in classification (view angle, size, position, color, etc).
> high computation and time required for model training.
Transformer Neural Networks
> network model that adopts the mechanism of attention, differentially weighing the significance of each part of the input data.
> an architecture for transforming one sequence into another one with the help of two parts (Encoder and Decoder) but it differs from existing sequence-to-sequence models because it does not imply any Recurrent Networks (GRU, LSTM, etc.)
> model (example)
> used primarily in the field of natural language processing (NLP) and in computer vision (CV).
> designed to handle sequential input data such as natural language, for tasks such as translation and text summarization.
> the model of choice for NLP problems, replacing RNN models such as LSTMs.
> led to the development of pretrained systems such as BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) and GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer).
> attention can only deal with fixed-length text strings and has to be split into a certain number of segments or chunks before being fed into the system as input.
> high computation and time required for model training.
Deep Learning Algorithms Comparison
Algorithm ClassDeep Learning AlgorithmsMain Task
SupervisedMultilayer Perceptron’s (MLPs)Regression and Classification
Supervised Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN)Computer Vision (CV)
Supervised Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs)Time Series Analysis
UnsupervisedSelf Organizing Maps (SOMs)Feature Detection
UnsupervisedRestricted Boltzmann Machines (RBMs) Recommendation Systems
UnsupervisedAutoencodersRecommendation Systems
UnsupervisedTransformer Neural NetworksNatural Language Processing (NLP)
Supervised/UnsupervisedGenerative Adversarial Networks (GANs) Generative Modeling
Executive Summary

1. Deep Learning Wikipedia. Source:
2. Deep Learning A-Z. Source:
3. Deep Learning Algorithms in Machine Learning. Source:
4. Top Deep Learning Algorithms. Source:
5. A Tour of Machine Learning Algorithms. Source:

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