great bargain in a cheap shop

I dropped into a charity shop on the way home today and came across a copy of Artifical Intelligence, by Elaine Rich and Kevin Knight for €2. I couldn’t resist it. I spent the rest of my walk reading the connectionist chapter. It described everything very clearly, even though my eyes rolled back in my head and I started gibbering when I came across some maths in it.

It turns out that the model of neural network that I have chosen to build for the recognition engine in my gardening robot is actually closer to a Boltzmann Machine than a Hopfield Network. The difference appears to be that Hopfield Networks give binary outputs, and are therefore kind of jerky in response, while a Boltzmann Machine gives more of an analogue output, which allows fuzzy results (instead of “Yes, that is a cat” in the former, you get “That’s probably a cat” in the latter, which would be more accurate).

Another interesting part of that chapter was its treatment on recurrent networks, which allows a neural net to do things like learn to speak, learn to walk – generally anything which has a list of actions which must be performed in sequence. This is something I have had an interest in since I started thinking about how to make my robot mobile. The first generation of my bot will run on tank treads, but once I am confident that the prototype works, I will be considering insect-like legs, which take up less room, and allow the robot to step over vegetation without damaging it too much.

Stay tuned – I hope to have the first release of my Rekog engine complete by next weekend – I’m getting the hang of KDE programming. That engine will be multi-purpose – it will be a general recognition engine, usable by other people for other purposes (facial recognition, etc); not specifically what I planned it for.

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