Review: Microsoft takes on TensorFlow

Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit is fast and easy to use, but a little wet behind the ears

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At a Glance
  • Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit v2.0 Beta 1

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    Microsoft’s Cognitive Toolkit is an open source, unified deep learning toolkit with new C++ and Python APIs.

Like Google, Microsoft has been differentiating its products by adding machine learning features. In the case of Cortana, those features are speech recognition and language parsing. In the case of Bing, speech recognition and language parsing are joined by image recognition. Google’s underlying machine learning technology is TensorFlow. Microsoft’s is the Cognitive Toolkit. 

Both TensorFlow and Cognitive Toolkit have been released to open source. Both are complex frameworks that implement many neural network and deep learning algorithms. Both present challenges to developers new to the area. Cognitive Toolkit has recently become easier to install and deploy than it was, thanks to an automatic installation script. Cognitive Toolkit may be a little easier to use than TensorFlow right now, but that is balanced by TensorFlow’s wider applicability.

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