Introduction to neural networks

Neural networks

Article content

The topic of neural networks in the IT area has become very popular in recent years. Neural networks are not a new concept, as they were already popular in the 1970s. However, their real development took place in the 21st century due to the technology’s huge leap forward. Neural networks are one of the areas of artificial intelligence (AI). The interest in neural networks is growing, thus forcing us to constantly develop and improve them.


In order to describe the way neural networks work, it is worth referring (in a certain simplification) to the way the human nervous system works. The characteristic of the functionality is acting as a biological system. Despite enormous progress and the use of innovative solutions, today’s networks still are not able to act as well as the human brain. However, it can’t be ruled out that in the future such an advanced stage of development will be reached.

Neural network structure

The neural network consists of a certain number of neurons. The simplest neural network is called perceptone, which consists of only one artificial neuron. Input data with assigned weight scales are sent to the perceptone – it determines the final result of a parameter. This set of data is later sent to the summation block. The summation block is just a pattern, an algorithm prepared by programmers. Summing all inputs gives a result, which in today’s advanced types of artificial neurons answers the form of a real number. The result informs about the type of decision that was made based on the calculations.

Illustrative diagram of the perceptron operation
Img 1 Schematic diagram of how a perceptron works. Each of the 4 input elements is multiplied by its corresponding weights. The products are summed (summation block) and the sum is passed to the activation function (activation block), whose output is also the output of the perceptron.

The usage of neural networks

When it comes to the development of AI, it is closely connected to the development of neural networks. An unquestionable advantage of networks is that they have a wide range of applications. Furthermore, they leave room for unlimited possibilities for further development. Another advantage of it is that they deal well with large data sets, which are sometimes very difficult for humans. What’s more, they can adapt to the new situations when new variables appear. However, most available on the market programs do not have this possibility.

Neural networks’ ability to work based on damaged data is still a field of development. They will find applications in a growing number of areas, mainly in finance, medicine, and technology. Neural networks will appear successively in areas that require solutions related to prediction, classification, and control. They will find their application wherever creating scenarios or making decisions is based on many variables.