Microsoft and Amazon unveil 'Gluon', a new deep learning library

Gluon allows developers to build machine learning models with a simple Python scripting language API, along with pre-built and optimised neural network components.

AWS and Microsoft may be arch rivals when it comes to competing for business in cloud storage and services, but when it comes to breaking ground in newer areas where volumes of data make a difference to how well the services work and creating systems that are easier to use, collaboration is key.

"Developers can use the Gluon interface to create neural networks on the fly, and to change their size and shape dynamically", the release said. And because of the complexity of each component, the process can take a long time. To get around this, some deep learning engines like Microsoft's Cognitive Toolkit and Google's TensorFlow offer training optimisations to improve performance. Conversely, some engines focus on offering simpler model building at the expense of training performance. By combining the neural network model with its training algorithms, Gluon lets developers train their models in a step-by-step process. First, he argued, it's easier to learn and to understand than more formal neural network definition methods. Gluon now works with the Apache MXNet deep learning engine. Eric Boyd, corporate vice president of Microsoft AI and Research, addressed this in the release, saying it's important for the pair to "pool resources to build technology that benefits the broader community". Microsoft and Amazon said in a joint press release today that building machine learning models can be very hard, requires a lot of time and processing power.

Gluon was developed by the two as an open source project and is aimed at prototyping, building, training and deploying machine learning models for the cloud, devices at the edge and mobile apps, the companies said. "More seasoned data scientists and researchers will value the ability to build prototypes quickly and utilize dynamic neural network graphs for entirely new model architectures, all without sacrificing training speed". Both Amazon and Microsoft said they will continue to collaborate on Gluon, presenting it as a way of creating an "open AI ecosystem" that's accessible to the entire industry. Integrating with Apache MXNet and Microsoft Cognitive Services is a start but for now teams using architecture from Google or Amazon are unable to access Gluon's benefits.

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