Neural Networks for Pattern Recognition
This book provides the first comprehensive treatment of feed-forward neural networks from the perspective of statistical pattern recognition. After introducing the basic concepts of pattern recognition, the book describes techniques for modelling probability density functions, and discusses the properties and relative merits of the multi-layer perceptron and radial basis function network models. It also motivates the use of various forms of error functions, and reviews the principal algorithms for error function minimization. As well as providing a detailed discussion of learning and generalization in neural networks, the book also covers the important topics of data processing, feature extraction, and prior knowledge. The book concludes with an extensive treatment of Bayesian techniques and their applications to neural networks.
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This book came out at about the same time as Ripley's, which has almost the same title, but in reverse. At the time, I liked Ripley's better, because it covered more things that were totally new to me. Then a friend said he had chosen Bishop for a course he was teaching, and I went back and reconsidered the two books. I soon found that my friend was right: Bishop's book is better laid out for a course in that it starts at the beginning (well, not quite the beginning--you do need to be fairly sophisticated mathematically) and works up, while Ripley's is more a collection of insights all at the same level; confusing to learn from. Bishop is able to cover both theoretical and practical aspects well. There certainly are topics that aren't covered, but the ones that are there fit together nicely, are accurate and up to date, and are easy to understand. It has migrated from my bookcase to my desk, where it now stays, and I reach for it often. To the reviewer who said "I was looking forward to a detailed insight into neural networks in this book. Instead, almost every page is plastered up with sigma notation", that's like saying about a book on music theory "Instead, almost every page is palstered with black-and-white ovals (some with sticks on the edge)." Or to the reviewer who complains this book is limited to the mathematical side of neural nets, that's like complaining about a cookbook on beef being limited to the carnivore side. If you want a non-technical overview, you can get that elsewhere, but if you want understanding of the techniques, you have to understand the math. Otherwise, there's no beef.