Top 9 Best Deep Learning Frameworks for All Levels Developers

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9 leading deep learning frameworks are TensorFlow, PyTorch, Keras, PaddlePaddle, Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, MATLAB, Caffe, MXNet, and Deeplearning4j (DL4J).

deep learning frameworks

Table of Contents

The world of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing, and deep learning, a powerful discipline, is at the forefront of this transformation. Deep learning transforms sectors and shapes the future, from facial recognition on smartphones to self-driving cars.

This article examines the top 9 deep learning frameworks for developers of different skill levels. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a curious newbie, this blog will walk you through each framework's details, essential features, and applicants. 

What is Deep Learning?

Deep learning is an artificial intelligence (AI) technique inspired by the structure and function of the human brain. It uses artificial neural networks with numerous layers to learn from massive quantities of data and produce increasingly accurate predictions.

However, developing and training these complicated neural networks can be a difficult task. This is where deep learning frameworks come in. Deep learning frameworks are tools that facilitate the process of creating deep learning models. These frameworks offer a collection of building blocks, including: 

  • Pre-written Functions: Carry out standard deep learning tasks such as altering data, activation functions, and optimization techniques.

  • Automatic Differentiation: Help the system calculate the gradients required for developing your model efficiently.

  • Hardware Acceleration: Use powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) to reduce training times.

  • Visualization Tools: Allow you to see how your model is learning and spot any issues.

Using a deep learning framework allows you to focus on the key concepts of your project while leaving technical specifics to the framework. This enables developers at all skill levels to investigate the intriguing potential of deep learning.

what is deep learning
What is Deep Learning? (Source: Internet)

Benefits of Deep Learning Frameworks

Deep learning frameworks offer a multitude of advantages for developers working with artificial neural networks. Here's how they can significantly improve your deep-learning journey:

  • Faster Development: Frameworks let you focus on your project's unique features by providing pre-built components and functions. This streamlines development and speeds up the completion process.

  • Simpler Experimentation: Frameworks simplify experimentation. You can change model architecture, hyperparameters, and data sets without rewriting code. This lets you try multiple methods and improve your model's performance.

  • Access Pre-built Models: Frameworks provide pre-trained models for image recognition, NLP, and object detection. Starting your project with one of these models can save you time and money on model training. To improve outcomes, fine-tune these pre-trained models on your dataset.

9 Popular Deep Learning Frameworks

TensorFlow 

Release

2015

Platform

Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, JavaScript

Type

Machine Learning Library

License

Apache License 2.0

Website

https://www.tensorflow.org/ 

This is a pioneering open-source platform for computational science and massive machine learning. TensorFlow excels at deep learning thanks to its wide network of libraries and tools. It has excellent versatility and ready-for-use deployment choices, making it a popular choice for researchers and developers of all skill levels.

Features: 

  • Large machine learning library and tool ecosystem.

  • Highly scalable for large datasets and sophisticated models.

  • Implementation possibilities for real-world applications.

  • Several APIs, including beginner-friendly Keras.

  • Numerous resources and community help are available.

Applicants:  

  • Researchers at all levels.

  • Developers of all ability levels.

  • Manufacturing engineers using machine learning models.

  • Data scientists for machine learning applications.

tensorflow framework

PyTorch

Release

2016

Platform

Linux, macOS, Windows, IA-32, x86-64

Type

Library for machine learning and deep learning

License

BSD 3-Clause "New"

Website

https://pytorch.org/ 

PyTorch is an open-source framework noted for its user-friendly design and dynamic computational graphs. PyTorch's flexibility enables rapid experimentation and customization, making it a favorite among researchers and developers who value ease of use. It does particularly well in processing natural language tasks.

Features: 

  • Flexible model experimentation with a dynamic computational graph.

  • Pythonic, user-friendly user interfaces (UI)

  • Research-driven creation of cutting-edge features.

  • Excellent for natural language processing.

  • An active, broad community offering assistance and resources.

Applicants: 

  • Flexible, fast-experimenting researchers.

  • Python developers seeking an easy-to-use deep learning framework.

  • Professionals in NLP.

  • Students and beginners because of its easy learning curve.

Pytorch framework

Keras 

Release

2015 

Platform

Cross-platform apps

Type

Neural networks

License

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Website

https://keras.io/ 

Keras is a high-level API built on TensorFlow that allows for quick prototyping. Its clear language and user-friendly approach enable newcomers to rapidly comprehend deep learning ideas. Despite its simplicity, Keras makes full use of TensorFlow below, allowing for more complicated models as needed.

Features: 

  • User-friendly TensorFlow high-level API development.

  • The short syntax is best for rapid prototyping.

  • Easy for deep learning beginners.

  • Advantage for complex models.

Applicants: 

  • Beginners interested in deep learning method concepts.

  • Prototyping teams must quickly design and test deep learning models.

  • TensorFlow developers want a higher-level API.

  • Anyone looking for a simple deep learning interface.

Keras framework

PaddlePaddle

Release

2016

Platform

Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, iOS

Type

Deep Learning

License

Apache 2.0

Website

https://github.com/PaddlePaddle/Paddle 

PaddlePaddle, created by Baidu, is an open-source framework noted for its efficient execution engine and ease of deployment. This makes it an excellent alternative for projects involving mobile and embedded devices. PaddlePaddle benefits from Baidu's strong industrial support and provides a user-friendly experience.

Features: 

  • High-performance training and inference engine.

  • Designed for mobile apps and software.

  • Baidu's industrial support and development.

  • Simple UI with decent tutorials and documentation.

Applicants: 

  • Deep learning model deployers for mobile and embedded devices.

  • Developers seeking an efficient, deployable framework.

  • Businesses backed by Baidu or pursuing Baidu integration.

  • Anyone prioritizing resource-constrained gadget usability and deployment.

Paddle Paddle framework

Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK)

Release

2016

Platform

Linux, Windows

Type

Library for Machine Learning and Deep Learning

License

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Website

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cognitive-toolkit/ 

CNTK is an open-source framework developed by Microsoft that focuses on business installations on Microsoft Azure. It performs well in speech recognition tasks, making it an appropriate choice for developers working in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Features: 

  • Concentrates on Microsoft Azure business deployments.

  • Performs well in speech recognition.

  • Works well with Microsoft products.

  • Open-source yet less developed than top frameworks.

Applicants: 

  • Microsoft developers, notably Azure deployers.

  • Engineers and researchers studying speech recognition.

  •  Project teams using Microsoft tools and services.

  • Developers without needing cutting-edge features.

microsoft cognitive toolkit CNTK framework

MATLAB

Release

1984

Platform

Linux, macOS, Windows

Type

Deep Learning (Toolbox add-on)

License

Proprietary

Website

https://matlab.mathworks.com/ 

While not entirely open-source, MATLAB provides a strong commercial environment for numerical computing, visualization, and deep learning. Its deep learning toolbox includes pre-trained models and effortlessly interacts with existing MATLAB workflows, making it appealing to researchers and professionals who already use the platform.

Features: 

  • Strong commercial numerical computing and scientific environment.

  • The deep learning toolbox offers pre-trained models and tools.

  • Smooth MATLAB workflow integration.

  • Necessary subscription for the proprietary license.

Applicants: 

  • Researchers and engineers utilizing MATLAB for science.

  • Teams who prefer commercial tools and support.

  • Academic institutions with MATLAB licenses.

  • Anyone prioritizing MATLAB's well-integrated deep learning solution.

MATLAB framework

Caffe

Release

2017

Platform

Linux, macOS

Type

Library for Deep Learning

License

BSD 2-Clause 

Website

http://caffe.berkeleyvision.org/ 

Caffe was formerly a well-known framework for its quickness and effectiveness in convolutional neural networks, but its development has stalled. However, Caffe-based projects from the past may continue to benefit from its capabilities, particularly computer vision jobs. Caffe2 is viewed as its active successor.

Features: 

  • Processes images quickly on graphics cards for efficient training and deployment.

  • Flexible building blocks combine pre-made layers or custom ones for creating complex neural networks.

  • Open and resourceful provide a community-driven model zoo and open-source code for collaboration.

Applicants: 

  • Developers of old Caffe projects, especially CNNs.

  • Researchers considering switching to Caffe2.

Caffe framework

MXNet

Release

2015

Platform

Linux, macOS, Windows, Android &  iOS

Type

Deep Learning

License

Apache 2.0

Website

https://mxnet.apache.org/ 

An open-source framework is known for its ability to scale and adapt. MXNet supports a variety of hardware platforms and enables distributed training on huge datasets, making it an excellent choice for researchers and developers working on computationally intensive deep learning applications.

Features: 

  • Scalable distributed training and large dataset framework.

  • Compatible with CPUs and GPUs for versatility.

  • Ideal for researchers and computationally intensive deep learning.

  • Active Apache software foundation development.

Applicants: 

  • Big data researchers need scalability and distributed training.

  • Developers working on computationally intensive deep learning.

  • Flexible hardware support is needed by teams.

  • Anyone prioritizing scalability and huge data in deep learning.

MXNet framework

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Deeplearning4j (DL4J)

Release

2014 

Platform

Cross-platform

Type

Natural Language Processing(NLP), Deep Learning, Machine Vision, Artificial Intelligence (AI)

License

Apache License 2.0 

Website

www.deeplearning4j.org 

DL4J is an open-source framework written in Java and Scala that integrates with Apache Spark. This enables distributed deep learning on massive datasets, making it an invaluable resource for Java developers working on big data projects with Spark.

Features: 

  • Using Java and Scala programming language 

  • Working well with Apache Spark for distributed deep learning.

  • Community-supported open-source framework.

Applicants: 

  • Java developers prefer Java-based deep learning frameworks and working on Apache Spark big data projects.

  • Teams using Spark clusters for distributed deep learning.

dl4j framework

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Deep Learning Framework

Project needs

Different frameworks grow in certain areas. If your project requires image recognition, frameworks such as TensorFlow and PyTorch provide powerful computer vision libraries. Examine the strengths of each framework and select the one that best matches your project's objectives.

Ability of Use and Learning Curve

Some frameworks, such as Keras, are noted for their user-friendly interfaces and high-level abstractions, making them suitable for beginners. Others, like Caffe and CNTK, provide more granular control but have a steeper learning curve. Consider your level of experience and the intricacy of your project while making this option.

Community Support and Resources

A strong and active community surrounding a framework can be quite beneficial. Look for frameworks that provide rich documentation, tutorials, and online forums where you can ask questions and receive assistance from other developers. This can drastically improve your learning process and help you troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Commercial versus Open-Source

Many popular frameworks are open-source, which provides more flexibility and customization. However, some commercial packages may include additional features or enterprise-level support. Assess your requirements and budget to see whether an open-source or commercial framework is a better fit.

deep learning framework consideration
Starting With Deep Learning Framework (Source: Internet)

Getting Started with Deep Learning Frameworks

Online Courses and Tutorials

Numerous online portals provide complete courses and tutorials specifically geared to teaching deep learning frameworks. Popular choices include:

  • Coursera provides several courses on deep learning foundations and specialized frameworks. Their courses are changing over time, it is better to check their websites for the latest course offerings.

  • Udacity offers Nanodegree programs that include hands-on projects to help students obtain real experience using deep learning frameworks.

  • Kaggle Learn offers free interactive courses and tutorials that apply deep learning to real-world challenges.

Interactive Coding Notebooks

Platforms such as Google Colab and Kaggle enable you to experiment with deep learning frameworks right in your web browser. These notebooks are preloaded with libraries and datasets, removing the requirement for local setup. This is an excellent method to test the waters and become acquainted with the framework's syntax before venturing deeper.

Community Forums and Resources

The deep-learning community is extremely active and supportive. Joining online forums like as Stack Overflow or framework-specific groups can be quite helpful. Here, you may ask questions, learn from experienced developers, and keep up with the latest developments.

Remember, the goal is to begin with the fundamentals and progressively expand your knowledge. Utilize these tools, try out alternative frameworks, and don't be scared to make mistakes. With dedication and practice, you'll be on your way to mastering deep learning frameworks and developing cutting-edge AI applications.

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Conclusion

The huge field of deep learning frameworks can be overwhelming. This article looked at the definition of deep learning and the finest deep learning frameworks to know. Remember, choosing the right framework is determined by your project's requirements, skill level, and desired level of flexibility in mind.

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