Everything About Neural Network Activation Functions Is Here

24x7 Offshoring
4 min readMay 2, 2022


“The entire globe is a massive data problem in neural networks.”

It turns out that —

This statement applies to both our brains and machine learning.

Our brain is always attempting to categorize incoming data into “useful” and “not-so-useful” categories.

Artificial neural networks in deep learning go through a similar process.

The segmentation helps a neural network operate effectively by ensuring that it learns from the beneficial input rather than being trapped studying the unhelpful information.

What is the Activation Function of a Neural Network?

An Activation Function determines whether or not a neuron is activated. This means that it will use simpler mathematical operations to determine whether the neuron’s input to the network is essential or not throughout the prediction phase.

The Activation Function’s job is to generate output from a set of input values that are passed into a node (or a layer).

But —

Let’s back up for a moment and define what a node is.

A node is a duplicate of a neuron that receives a collection of input signals — external stimuli — if we compare the neural networks to the human brain.

The brain evaluates these incoming signals and chooses whether or not the cell should be engaged
(“fired”) based on their kind and strength.

The Activation Function’s principal function is to convert the node’s summed weighted input into an output value that may be passed to the next hidden layer or used as output.

Neural networks Architecture Elements

Here’s the deal:

It may be difficult to go deeper into the issue of activation functions if you don’t comprehend the notion of neural networks and how they work.

Activation Functions for Three Different Types of Neural Networks

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, let’s look at some of the most common neural networks activation functions.

The function of Binary Steps
A threshold value determines whether a neuron should be activated or not in a binary step function.

The input to the activation function is compared to a threshold; if it is higher, the neuron is activated; if it is lower, the neuron is deactivated, and its output information is not passed on to the next concealed layer…

The following are some of the drawbacks of the binary step function of neural networks:
• It can’t provide multi-value outputs, hence it can’t be utilized to solve multi-class classification issues, for example.
• The step function’s gradient is zero, which makes the backpropagation procedure difficult.

Linear Activation Function

The linear activation function, often known as the Identity Function, is a proportional activation function.

A linear activation function, on the other hand, has two fundamental drawbacks:
• Backpropagation is not conceivable since the function’s derivative is a constant and has no relationship to the input x.
• If a linear activation function is employed, all layers of the neural network will collapse into one. The last layer of a neural network will always be a linear function of the first layer, regardless of how many levels there are. A linear activation function effectively reduces the neural networks to a single layer.

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Activation Functions That Aren’t Linear

A linear regression model is used to create the linear activation function displayed above.
The model is unable to make complicated mappings between the network’s inputs and outputs due to its limited power.

The following drawbacks of linear activation functions are overcome by non-linear activation functions:
• They allow backpropagation since the derivative function is now tied to the input, making it feasible to go back and figure out which input neuron weights can produce a better forecast.
• They allow several layers of neurons to be stacked since the output is a non-linear mixture of input transmitted through numerous levels. In a neural network, any output may be represented as a functional computation.

Neural Networks Architecture Elements

Here’s the deal:

It may be difficult to go deeper into the issue of activation functions if you don’t comprehend the notion of neural networks and how they work.

That is why it is a good idea to brush up on your knowledge and take a brief look at the structure and components of the neural networks Architecture. It’s here.

A neural network made up of linked neurons may be seen in the figure above. The weight, bias, and activation function of each of them are unique.

Layer of Input
The domain’s raw input is sent into the input layer. This layer does not do any computations. The information (features) is simply passed on to the hidden layer via the nodes in this layer.

Layer that isn’t visible

The nodes of this layer are not exposed, as the name implies. They provide the network with a layer of abstraction.

The hidden layer computes all of the features entered through the input layer and sends the results to the output layer.

Layer of Output

It’s the network’s last layer that takes the information gleaned from the hidden layer and turns it into the final value.

Backpropagation vs. Feedforward

When studying neural networks, you’ll come across two concepts that describe how information moves: feedforward and backpropagation. The Activation Function is a mathematical “gate” between the input feeding the current neuron and its output flowing to the next layer in feedforward propagation.

Simply said, backpropagation seeks to reduce the cost function by altering the weights and biases of the network. The amount of modification with regard to parameters such as the activation function, weights, bias, and so on is determined by the cost function gradients.

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