Wide & Deep Learning: Better Together with TensorFlow

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” — Pablo Picasso

The human brain is a sophisticated learning machine, forming rules by memorizing everyday events (“sparrows can fly” and “pigeons can fly”) and generalizing those learnings to apply to things we haven’t seen before (“animals with wings can fly”). Perhaps more powerfully, memorization also allows us to further refine our generalized rules with exceptions (“penguins can’t fly”). As we were exploring how to advance machine intelligence, we asked ourselves the question—can we teach computers to learn like humans do, by combining the power of memorization and generalization?

It’s not an easy question to answer, but by jointly training a wide linear model (for memorization) alongside a deep neural network (for generalization), one can combine the strengths of both to bring us one step closer. At Google, we call it Wide & Deep Learning. It’s useful for generic large-scale regression and classification problems with sparse inputs (categorical features with a large number of possible feature values), such as recommender systems, search, and ranking problems.

Today we’re open-sourcing our implementation of Wide & Deep Learning as part of the TF.Learn APIso that you can easily train a model yourself. Please check out the TensorFlow tutorials on Linear Models and Wide & Deep Learning, as well as our research paper to learn more.