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Some days ago I posted a node asking for advices on Neural Networks with perl. The feedback didn't give me new ideas, so I started to setup my own NN. Now I want to share my experience here in the monastery:
First I have used the new module AI::NNFlex, that was the only one that works fine on Win32 and worked well with a real job. But testing other modules like AI::NeuralNet::Simple I saw that an easier interface and speed was needed.
So I started to write AI::NNEasy (http://search.cpan.org/~gmpassos/AI-NNEasy-0.03/). To do that I got the sources of AI::NNFlex, that are pure Perl, and rewrited them making some optimizations, specially in the access of the HASH keys, since is a OO module with a lot of access to attributes in many objects. Also I have fixed some node references that was using the object reference address as ID to identify the node bojects, what make impossible to serialize that, since the object address changes for each process execution.
To write all of that fast and add XS support I have used Class::HPLOO, that enables this kind of syntax:
The code above show how easy is to setup a class in Perl, and as a plus we can write C functions as we write normal Perl subs directly in the class body.
After rewrite all the NN code I started to analyze the methods that use more CPU using Devel::DProf. With that I found the subs that need to be turned into XS:
For example, the tanh function is called more than 30000 when the NN is learning a set of inputs, so I have writed 2 versions of the same function in the class:
Finaly, after have made the NN work 10 times faster with this XS functions, I have added a more intuitive interface with the module and a winner algorithm to give to us the right output, and not just a decimal number near the real number of the output.
So, now we can set a NN with a simple OO interface, without need to write our won learning algorithms and output analyzer. Also we don't need to care (but can) about the hidden layers, since NNEasy will calculate them for you, you just need to paste the number of inputs and outputs:
Now I can work in the real project that made me research about NN. The project will be used to analyze texts on complex photos and identify them automatically. Now I have 60% of accurance, what is already a good result, since I have started to work in the NN part only in this week.
So, thanks to CPAN, to Inline::C, to AI::NNFlex, and all the resources that are there for free and open to be changed and improved, and now AI::NNEasy is there too. ;-P
Graciliano M. P.