Netflix is joining the likes of Facebook, Google and Microsoft in exploring deep learning algorithms to improve their user experience.
Netflix engineers Xavier Amatriain, Justin Basilico and Alex Chen explained the new endeavor in a blog post detailing their research into how deep learning could improve the Netflix movie and TV recommendation engine. Yet unlike larger companies such as Facebook or Google, Netflix is running its algorithms on Amazon Web Services, where it already hosts its streaming service, rather than building custom infrastructure.
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Deep learning is a branch of artificial intelligence that aims to solve complex problems using computer systems that mimic the structure and behavior of the human brain. While Netflix hasn’t yet revealed how exactly they’ll apply the algorithms to recommendations, the engineers did break down how they’ll use GPUs to build the deep learning neural networks.
“In architecting our approach for leveraging computing power in the cloud, we sought to strike a balance that would make it fast and easy to train neural networks,” the engineers wrote. “We sought out to implement a large-scale neural network training system that leveraged both the advantages of GPUs and the AWS cloud. We have the capacity to use many GPU cores, CPU cores and AWS instances… In our solution, we take the approach of using GPU-based parallelism for training and using distributed computation for handling hyperparameter tuning and different configurations.”