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Training a 3-Node Neural Network is NP-Complete

By Avrim L. Blum and Ronald L. Rivestt


We consider a 2-layer, 3-node, n-input neural network whose nodes compute linear threshold functions of their inputs. We show that it is NP-complete to decide whether there exist weights and thresholds for this network so that it produces output consistent with a given set of training examples. We extend the result to other simple networks. We also present a network for which training is hard but where switching to a more powerful representation makes training easier. These results suggest that those looking for perfect training algorithms cannot escape inherent computational difficulties just by considering only simple or very regular networks. They also suggest the importance, given a training problem, of finding an appropriate network and input encoding for that problem. It is left as an open problem to extend our result to nodes with nonlinear functions such as sigmoids

Topics: Computational complexity, NP-completeness, Intractability, Learning, Training, Multilayer perceptron, Representation
Year: 1992
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