A Boltzmann machine is a network of symmetrically connected, neuron-like units that make stochastic decisions about whether to be on or off. Boltzmann machines have a simple learning algorithm that allows them to discover interesting features that represent complex regularities in the training data. The learning algorithm is very slow in networks with many layers of feature detectors, but it is fast in "restricted Boltzmann machines" that have a single layer of feature detectors. Many hidden layers can be learned efficiently by composing restricted Boltzmann machines, using the feature activations of one as the training data for the next. Boltzmann machines are used to solve two quite different computational problems. For a search problem, the weights on the connections are fixed and are used to represent a cost function. The stochastic dynamics of a Boltzmann machine then allow it to sample binary state vectors that have low values of the cost function. For a learning problem, the Boltzmann machine is shown a set of binary data vectors and it must learn to generate these vectors with high probability. To do this, it must find weights on the connections so that, relative to other possible binary vectors, the data vectors have low values of the cost function. To solve a learning problem, Boltzmann machines make many small updates to their weights, and each update requires them to solve many different search problems.

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