Facebook open-sources new AI smarts

Facebook has released machine modules for improving machine vision and pattern recognition

Facebook has released as open source some software modules that can speed image recognition, language modeling and other machine learning tasks, in a move to advance computer artificial intelligence for itself and others.

Such modules could be used by startups or other companies that want to build AI-based products and services, but may not have the "deep engineering" expertise on hand to develop such capabilities in-house, said Soumith Chintala, a Facebook research engineer who works for the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) lab.

Facebook does not yet incorporate AI technologies into its social networking service, Chintala said, though the techniques being developed at FAIR may one day be used to improve customer experience. Given the relative paucity of commercially available AI tools, Facebook is funding FAIR to build basic capabilities in-house, and open sourcing the results so others can use and refine them, he said.

The new modules run on Facebook's Torch, an open source development framework for building deep learning applications. Google, Twitter, Nvidia, Intel, and Nvidia have used this framework for their projects.

The module that Chintala was most enthusiastic about discussing was one that was written to recognize objects within images. While there are plenty of software libraries that already do this task, this set of code does it much more quickly than other approaches, using techniques Facebook researchers developed along with Nvidia's cuFFT library (FFT stands for fast Fourier Transform, an algorithm for converting signals).

The module, which was built to run on arrays of GPUs, can be used to build convolutional networks, an emerging type of neural network well-suited for machine vision.

Another module, called Hierarchical SoftMax, can speed the process of training a machine-learning network to understand the relationships among tens of millions of objects -- all the words in a dictionary, for instance. This module could be used, for instance, to predict the next word in a sentence, given the first few words of a sentence. Hierarchical SoftMax builds on work done at Microsoft's research labs.

Another module does temporal correlation, Chintala said. It can be used to look at a series of time-related data and predict what the next value would be. This module would also be used in word prediction.

Facebook also released an optimized lookup table that can aid in holding in memory extremely large numbers of objects. A computer program looking to find the relationship between related words, such as "food" and "hunger" could use the table to speed the process of connecting them together, Chintala said. Facebook itself has tested this module for automatically generating potential hashtags for a given body of text.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Un-complicating multi-channel marketing: 5 actionable steps

There’s so much choice available that customers can pick and choose who they buy from and where, when, and how it happens. They want to discover, research, evaluate, and purchase on their preferred channel. Give them that option, and they’re more likely to choose you. That’s the whole point behind the multi-channel approach.

Aaron Agius

Co-founder and managing director, Louder Online

People in vegan houses shouldn't throw bacon

Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?

Abbie Love

Strategist, Ikon Communications

The role of the CMO is evolving: Are you keeping up?

My (amazing) vacation in the Galapagos Islands earlier in the year got me thinking about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. What does this have to do with the role of today’s CMO, you ask? Plenty.

Sheryl Pattek

Vice-president, executive partner

It’s excellent aiming to resurrect the complete within the hearts and minds of connected customers, moreover because the terribly relevan...


CMO Interview: How Kodak’s global CMO is bringing the brand back from the brink

Read more

Great to see ActiveCampaign's growth funded with some serious money.As a platform, it's up there with the usual suspects in terms of feat...

Lawrence Ladomery

CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 13 October

Read more


Kerry Edwards

Open Colleges taps into social for better student interaction

Read more

Or just go to sites like www.shopsthatshiptoaustralia.c... and others and be sure that the stores will send to where you live :-)


Why online shopping is like dating – RedBalloon CEO

Read more

Personalisation is the key. Customers demand a very relatable and well defined CX where the sincerity and understanding of their disposit...

Hitesh Parekh

In pictures: Improving cutomer experiences through smart personalisation

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in