Gradient Descent Algorithm

Learn how to find the minimum point on the curve through gradient descent algorithm.

Find the minimum on the curve

Imagine that a complex landscape is a mathematical function. What the gradient descent method gives us is the ability to find the minimum without actually having to understand that complex function enough to work it out mathematically. If a function is so difficult that we can’t easily find the minimum using algebra, we can use this method instead. It might not give us the exact answer, because we’re using steps to approach an answer and improving our position bit by bit. However, that is better than not having an answer at all. We can keep refining the answer with ever smaller steps toward the actual minimum, until we’re happy with the accuracy we’ve achieved.

What’s the link between this really cool gradient descent method and neural networks? If the complex difficult function is the error of the network, then going downhill to find the minimum means we’re minimizing the error and therefore, improving the network’s output.

Let’s look at this gradient descent idea with a super simple example so we can understand it properly.

The following graph shows the simple function y=(x1)2+1y = (x-1)^2 + 1. If this was a function where yy was the error, we would want to find the xx that minimizes it. For a moment, let’s pretend that this isn’t an easy function, but is a complex one instead.

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