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We study and compare different neural network learning strategies: batch-mode learning, online learning, cyclic learning, and almost-cyclic learning. Incremental learning strategies require less storage capacity than batch-mode learning. However, due to the arbitrariness in the presentation order of the training patterns, incremental learning is a stochastic process; whereas batch-mode learning is deterministic. In zeroth order, i.e., as the learning parameter /spl eta/ tends to zero, all learning strategies approximate the same ordinary differential equation for convenience referred to as the "ideal behavior". Using stochastic methods valid for small learning parameters /spl eta/, we derive differential equations describing the evolution of the lowest-order deviations from this ideal behavior. We compute how the asymptotic misadjustment, measuring the average asymptotic distance from a stable fixed point of the ideal behavior, scales as a function of the learning parameter and the number of training patterns. Knowing the asymptotic misadjustment, we calculate the typical number of learning steps necessary to generate a weight within order /spl epsiv/ of this fixed point, both with fixed and time-dependent learning parameters. We conclude that almost-cyclic learning (learning with random cycles) is a better alternative for batch-mode learning than cyclic learning (learning with a fixed cycle).
Date of Publication: July 1996