Comparison between conventional computers and neural networks
One of the major advantages of the neural network is its ability to do many things at once. With traditional computers, processing is sequential--one task, then the next, then the next, and so on. The idea of threading makes it appear to the human user that many things are happening at one time. For instance, the Netscape throbber is shooting meteors at the same time that the page is loading. However, this is only an appearance; processes are not actually happening simultaneously.
The artificial neural network is an inherently multiprocessor-friendly architecture. Without much modification, it goes beyond one or even two processors of the von Neumann architecture. The artificial neural network is designed from the onset to be parallel. Humans can listen to music at the same time they do their homework--at least, that's what we try to convince our parents in high school. With a massively parallel architecture, the neural network can accomplish a lot in less time. The tradeoff is that processors have to be specifically designed for the neural network.
The ways in which they function
Based upon the way they function, traditional computers have to learn by rules, while artificial neural networks learn by example, by doing something and then learning from it. Because of these fundamental differences, the applications to which we can tailor them are extremely different. We will explore some of the applications later in the presentation.
Back to the question "What does it mean to learn?"