Current Issues

Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

Understanding the Power of Deep Learning: An Introductory Look at How this Technology Works

An overview of deep learning, what makes it so valuable, and why companies are investing in this area

11-Dec-2018
Understanding the Power of Deep Learning: An Introductory Look at How this Technology Works
One reason why deep learning is a confusing concept to many is that it is often used alongside the terms machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Deep learning (DL) is a subset of ML, which is itself a subset of AI. A DL algorithm is able to learn hidden patterns from the data by itself, combine them together, and build much more efficient decision rules.

Deep learning works best as the amount of data scales, making it popular in industries that collect massive amounts of data. These industries include manufacturing, automotive, hospitality, healthcare, banking, agriculture, entertainment, IT/Security, retail, and supply chain and logistics.

The controversy surrounding deep learning (as well as surrounding AI) is the fear of the “black box.” That is, how can anyone base a service or product on deep learning and trust the decisions being made if no one knows how they’re being made?

A deeper look at deep learning
One of the key reasons deep learning is more powerful than classical machine learning is that it creates transferable solutions. Deep learning algorithms are able to create transferable solutions through neural networks: that is, layers of neurons/units. A neuron takes input and outputs a number that assigns the input to a class (group). The output is determined the way you would make a decision. A neuron similarly takes multiple inputs, each with a corresponding weight (importance). The inputs are passed through an activation function which gives the final output.

Deep learning problems boil down to classification - whether binary (e.g., is this image a cat, or not a cat?) or multiclass (e.g., is this image a cat, a dog, a bird, etc.). So finding the optimal features (variables) and parameters (weights) are key. A model can be built with a single layer of neurons, and adding layers lets the computer create more and more specific features that lead to a more complex final output.

Understanding Gradient Descent
Understanding gradient descent is helpful for understanding deep learning because it’s one of the most popular - if not the most popular - strategy for optimizing a model during training (that is, making sure it's “learning” correctly).

Remember that in deep learning, it's the algorithm that finds the features for the most accurate classification (instead of the human, as is the case in machine learning), so the computer needs a way to determine the optimal features and weights - that is, ones that lead to the most accurate final classification.

The Details of Gradient Descent
This happens through choosing the features and weights that minimize some error/cost function. The error/cost function is the sum of loss functions (predicted value of a point - actual value of a point) + a regularization term. The regularization term penalizes models with many features to prevent overfitting (being accurate for a specific dataset but failing to generalize).

To minimize our error function, we use gradient descent: the computer chooses certain parameters (features and weights) and takes the negative gradient (gradient is the rate of greatest increase, so the negative gradient is the rate of greatest decrease) of the error function until it finds the parameters that lead a gradient of 0 (corresponding to a minimum of the error function). It works like getting to the lowest point on a mountain as quickly as possible: you walk in the direction of steepest decrease until you hit a minimum. For example, here we keep adjusting the line until we have minimized the classification error (larger dots correspond to larger errors).

Types of Neural Networks
There are countless types of neural networks. Here is an overview of some of the most relevant types:
  • Feed Forward - Used in computer vision and speech recognition when classifying the target classes are complicated. Responsive to noisy data and easy to maintain. 
  • Radial Basis - Considers the distance of a point with respect to the center. Used for power restoration systems which are notoriously complicated. 
  • Kohonen - Recognizes patterns in data. Used medical analysis to cluster data into different categories ( a Kohonen network was able to classify patients with a diseased glomerular vs. a healthy one) 
  • Recurrent - Feeds the output of a layer back as input. Good for predicting the next word in a body of text, but harder to maintain. 
  • Modular - Collection of different networks work independently and contribute towards the final output. Increases computation speed (through the breakdown of a complicated computational process into simpler computations), but processing time is subject to the number of neurons. 

There is also the increasingly popular convolutional neural networks (CNN), which we discuss more in depth in this guide.

Real-Life Applications & The Future of Deep Learning
The future of deep learning is bright because of its open source community and accessible platforms. Increasingly, leading corporations such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, are making their technology accessible to the public. In the near future, deep learning will significantly improve voice command systems (such as Siri and Alexa), as well as healthcare and image identification.

Deep learning has applications across numerous industries, which is why experts think that this technology is the future of almost everything. There are truly cutting-edge deep learning technologies such as Google’s very human-like talking AI, a new theory that cracks the “black box” of deep learning, and various budding ideas like this one about why human forgetting might be the key to AI.

The new theory is especially important given the uptick in data regulation worldwide. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), especially, has made global companies think about how and where to use deep learning.

For those who want to know more about how deep learning works, download the whitepaper An Introduction to Deep Learning: Understanding The Basics of How (and Why) it Works.

Alex Saric
Smart Procurement Expert, Ivalua
The business impact of the new PM’s approach

Smart procurement expert Alex Saric warns that businesses trading with the EU need to urgently review supply chain operations ahead of Brexit

Guy Cuthbert
CEO, Atheon Analytics
Bring clarity of purpose to fixing food waste

Identifying the impact that waste has on sales margin and customer perception, and looking at the steps we can take to reduce total waste

David Griffiths
Senior Product Marketing & Strategy Manager, Adjuno
Putting your brand in the hands of AI

Entrusting data and brand values to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could prove to be your hero, not your villain.

Andreas Koenig
CEO, ProGlove
Wearable Technology - bringing data to the user and unlocking worker potential

The rise of the machine is fuelling essential discussions about the future role of workers – not least within logistics

Mike Thornton
Head of Manufacturing , RSM
UK manufacturing downturn mirrors other developed economies

Commenting on the latest results from the Markit/CIPS PMI manufacturing survey

Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes Systems UK
Is digitisation the key to preventing cross-border landed costs from disrupting international ecommerce?

How ecommerce organisations can ride the storm of uncertainty to international retail success.

Paul Croft
Director, 3DGBIRE
Taking the Hype out of the Innovation Cycle

From disrupting supply chains to rethinking material use and ending over-engineering, innovation is gaining pace.

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Companies lose millions by side-lining procurement teams, research shows

SCALA surveyed a selection of the UK’s best-known businesses and 3PLs

Richard Seel
Managing Director Supply Chain & Logistics, Delaware
Meeting the Challenge of Supply Chain Efficiency – How Manufacturers Can Achieve their Goals

The process of building efficient sustainable supply chains is becoming increasingly difficult, manufacturers must ensure they don’t fall behind.

Olivier Binet
Managing Director International Markets, InPost
How to build sustainability into last mile deliveries

Why streamlined delivery is at the heart of a green supply chain

Ron Volpe
Global Vice President Apps Business Development, Tradeshift
Under-Pressure Retailers Turn to D2C to Level the Playing Field

‘Retail apocalypse’ continues to ravage the high street - 2,700 closed UK Retailers in 2018

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Margin Erosion is turning the spotlight on the Warehouse

Craig explains how the next generation of warehouse operations will not only halt margin erosion but deliver new levels of retail profitability.

Simon Runc
Principal Visual Analyst, Atheon Analytics
Unlocking the Value in Data

The Science of Visualisation

Steve Purvis
Operations Director, Bis Henderson Space
Brexit Uncertainty Highlights Need for Flexible Logistics Strategy

Reassessing the balance of risk to supply chains and the potential horrors of trying to find well-located warehouse space

Alan Gunner
Business Development Director, Adjuno
Starting at the source: achieving a sustainable supply chain

Alan outlines why the key is for organisations to take control and focus on achieving full visibility

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Conquering Connected Commerce

From the omnichannel dream to the retail reality, paving the way for future prosperity

Mark Jolley
EMEA Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Solutions Sales Lead, Zebra Technologies
Augmented Reality is becoming a Retail Reality

4 ways this advanced technology is improving the shopping experience

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
The Cost of Doing Nothing

Retailers that continue to innovate, listen to their customers and invest in technology will reap the rewards;

Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
Are You Navigating Global UDI Compliance?

If so, you won't won't want to miss this year’s European UDI Forum, taking place in Brussels, April 24-25

Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
How the Resource and Waste Strategy Can Empower Industry

The DEFRA’s Resource and Waste Strategy sets out to reduce waste, get businesses to place sustainability higher up the priority list

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
No more fashion victims - retailers will flock to copy ASOS’ returns clampdown

ASOS’ new crackdown on ‘wardrobing’ will be replicated by most stores, says ParcelHero

Georgia Leybourne
Senior Director International Marketing, Manhattan Associates
Are we embracing the profit potential of the over 50s?

Far more demanding in their retail habits, more likely to invest in big ticket items, much more money to spend vs the younger generation.

Jon Moody
Chief Executive Officer, SSG Insight
The Future of Supply Chain Management

SSG Insight CEO Jon Moody discusses the importance of adopting a digital supply chain in a post Brexit Britain and Industry 4.0

David Luttenberger
Global Packaging Director, Mintel
Mintel announces top global packaging trends for 2019 and beyond

Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, has today announced four trends impacting the global packaging industry in 2019 and beyond

Andrew Tavener
Head of Marketing, Descartes UK
Compliance Management – it’s time for joined up thinking

How joined-up approach to compliance data transforms the overhead & provides insight that can deliver additional efficiencies throughout the business

Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
Primark's move to 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton should be commended

Primark is one of the latest retailers to announce new measures to become more sustainable by launching 100% sustainably sourced cotton jeans.

Marc Corriveau
Account Manager, Loftware
Changes in packaging result in ROI for F&B products

If you work for a food and beverage company, you may have noticed something about your competitors

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for British businesses

It is likely that the prime minister will now have to request a long extension to article 50 at Thursday's Brussels summit

Will Broome
CEO, Ubamarket
Increasing competition in the digital age will be beneficial for the high street

Increasing competition regulation during the digital age will not only be beneficial for consumers

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Booking a courier? No printer required, says ParcelCompare

It’s a common misconception that a printer is essential when booking a courier pick-up.

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for food and drink businesses

Given that the Brexit referendum was only advisory, not in any way binding, there have really always been four potential outcomes open to us

Graham Parker
CEO, Gravity Supply Chain Solutions
Mitigating The Risks Of Trade Wars And Tariffs

As trade wars heat up, businesses need to protect their profit margins from increased tariffs.

Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
How Brexit Will Impact Supply Chain Labeling?

The clock is ticking for the United Kingdom and European Union to finalize plans for the UK’s departure from the EU.

Sid Holian
Managing Director, Bis Henderson Consulting
Three critical steps to a hi-tech, agile supply chain

Retailers are facing a new reality and as a consequence supply chains must change.

Manu Tyagi
Associate Partner, Retail and Consumer Goods, Infosys Consulting
M&S and Ocado have signed a £750 million deal to take M&S groceries into the home delivery market

M&S’ deal with Ocado marks the high street retailer’s continued fight for survival, as it enters into the home delivery game.

Olivier Frère
Serialisaton Expert, Zetes
Understanding the Tobacco Products Directive

In a recent report issued by KPMG it was estimated that last year, counterfeit and contraband cigarette consumption was 8.7 % of total use in the EU

Dan Brown
Corporate Sector Director, SWRnewstar
Mind the gap: how the transport sector can meet targets to reduce avoidable waste

UK train companies are forever warning us to ‘Mind the Gap’.

Paul Heiden
Senior Vice President of Product Management, Ultimaker
6 overlooked benefits of 3D printing for your supply chain

Year on year, 3D printing is becoming more capable.

Dave Locke
EMEA Chief Technology Officer, WWT
Merged pharmaceutical firms seek fast-track route to savings

The pharmaceutical industry is preparing for an accelerated pace of consolidation, with the number of mergers up 39 per cent since 2017

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Amazon and Alibaba are creating the biggest revolution in shipping for 60 years

Global e-commerce is leading the biggest shake up in international shipping since containerization

Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes
How to make international ecommerce transparent, efficient and cost-effective

Cross-border ecommerce provides organisations with, theoretically, a low-cost opportunity to break into new markets.

Stephan Buhre
Managing Director, Implico
Standardized data communication in the downstream oil and gas sector

Today’s downstream companies do no longer just trade oil and gas.

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Putting the WOW in the checkout experience

Embracing technology is a prerequisite for success in the modern retail environment.

Richard Parfect
Fund Manager, Seneca Investment Managers
The cessation of Airbus A380 production

Richard Parfect, Fund Manager at Seneca Investment Managers, comments on the cessation of A380 production in 2021

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
What next for British business?

John Perry comments what next for British business

Chris Jones
EVP Marketing & Services, Descartes
5 Key Logistics Trends and Technology Implications for 2019

2018 can certainly be summarised as a turbulent year in logistics and transportation management

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
What is the Checkout of the Future?

To keep up with consumer expectations, the in-store experience, in particular, the process of checking out, needs to transform.

Jason Chester
Director of Global Channel Programs, InfinityQS
Industry pessimism could delay digital transformation and restrict growth across the manufacturing sector

Latest CBI Survey reveals spending on plant & machinery, training and innovation all expected to be lower in the year ahead

Charlie Pool
CEO, Stowga
Five key trends shaping the supply chain in 2019

2018 was a turbulent year for most industries - logistics and supply chain was no exception.