So you are interested in deep learning


Rachel Thomas


December 19, 2016

This was inspired by a bright high school student that emailed me for advice about his interest in deep learning.

Q: Hello Dr. Thomas! I’ve been trying to find good resources for deep learning, but the field does seem rather cryptic and a bit technically prohibitive for me at this point. If you wouldn’t mind, I had a couple of questions I’d love to ask you about learning deep learning:

A: Your assessment that most deep learning resources are either too brief or too mathematical is spot-on! My partner Jeremy Howard and I feel the same way, and we are working to create more practical resources. We will soon be producing a MOOC based on the in-person course we taught this autumn in collaboration with the Data Institute at USF. Until then, here are my recommendations:

In my opinion, the best existing resource is the Stanford CNN course. I recommend working through all the assignments.

Below are some of my favorite tutorials, blog posts, and videos for those getting started with Deep Learning:


Gradient Descent



As for your question about whether to front-load mathematical rigor, I think it’s good to focus on practical coding, since that way you can experiment and develop a good intuition and understanding of what you’re doing. Math is best learned on an as-needed basis - if you can’t understand something you’re trying to learn because math concepts are popping up you’re not familiar with, jump over to Khan Academy or to the absolutely beautiful 3 Blue 1 Brown Essence of Linear Algebra videos (great for visual thinkers) and get to work! Jeremy’s RNN tutorial above is nice example of a code-oriented approach to deep learning, although I know this can be hard given the existing resources.

It’s great that you’re doing Kaggle competitions. That is a fantastic way to learn–and to see if you understand the theory that you’re reading about. I’d have to know more about what you’re trying to know what to suggest next.