Google Is Offering A Free Online Class About Deep Learning

A Udacity course by Google will teach engineers and data scientists the basics of deep learning, which informs much of Google’s tech.

Techies who have some background in machine learning may want to tune into Google’s new course on deep learning. Available through Udacity—home to a host of open online courses—the class is expected to run about three months, assuming people put in about six hours of work per week.


The course will also introduce participants to TensorFlow, the open-source deep learning platform Google unveiled back in November. Deep learning, a division of machine learning through which machines detect and classify patterns in data, is the driving force behind Google Photos’ search engine and the company’s speech recognition technology.

“Deep learning is a modern take on the old idea of teaching computers, instead of programming them,” Vincent Vanhoucke, a principal scientist at Google, wrote in a Udacity blog post. “It has taken the world of machine learning by storm in recent years, and for good reason! Deep learning provides state-of-the-art results in many of the thorniest problems in computing, from machine perception and forecasting, to analytics and natural language processing.”

Vanhoucke—who will teach the course—explained that deep learning wasn’t only restricted to tech companies that can match Google’s resources, and that TensorFlow, in particular, met the needs of a wide range of users. From the blog post:

Reading the flurry of recent popular press around deep learning, you might rightfully wonder: isn’t deep learning just a ‘Big Data’ thing? Don’t I need the computing resources of Google or Facebook to take advantage of it? Isn’t there a lot of ‘black magic’ involved in making these models tick? And wouldn’t it only work for a narrow spectrum of perception tasks in the first place?

As someone from industry who accidentally fell into deep learning while working on Google Voice Search just five years ago, I’ve seen how nothing can be further from the truth. At that time, I didn’t use Google’s bazillion machines to get started with deep learning: I bought a modest computer with a GPU.

Facebook has similarly invested in deep learning, to improve the platform’s facial recognition capabilities. The social network recently opened a deep learning lab in Paris. Facebook has also released some of its artificial intelligence tools to the public.

[via The Verge]

About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.