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TensorFlow: Learning Functions at Scale

ICFP (2016)


TensorFlow is a machine learning system that operates at large scale and in heterogeneous environments. Its computational model is based on dataflow graphs with mutable state. Graph nodes may be mapped to different machines in a cluster, and within each machine to CPUs, GPUs, and other devices. TensorFlow supports a variety of applications, but it particularly targets training and inference with deep neural networks. It serves as a platform for research and for deploying machine learning systems across many areas, such as speech recognition, computer vision, robotics, information retrieval, and natural language processing. In this talk, we describe TensorFlow and outline some of its applications. We also discuss the question of what TensorFlow and deep learning may have to do with functional programming. Although TensorFlow is not purely functional, many of its uses are concerned with optimizing functions (during training), then with applying those functions (during inference). These functions are defined as compositions of simple primitives (as is common in functional programming), with internal data representations that are learned rather than manually designed. TensorFlow is joint work with many other people in the Google Brain team and elsewhere. More information is available at tensorflow.org.

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