5 Alternatives to TensorFlow

July 29, 2019 • Shannon Flynn

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Whether
you’re an engineer or a marketing analyst, you’ve likely realized how important
coding and data resources can be in the workplace. Data especially is what
makes the modern-day big business keep running ahead of the competition.

Keeping
up with the flow of data can be daunting without the right tools at your
disposal and trying to understand newer practices.

Tools
like TensorFlow are invaluable for data
gatherers, but sometimes the most popular option isn’t the best for everyone.
These aren’t one size fits all situations here, after all. To find good
alternatives for something like TensorFlow, you have to understand what it is
and what others can do.

What Is TensorFlow?

TensorFlow
is an open-source
library
for
computations using data flow graphs. The nodes are mathematical operations and
the edges are multidimensional data arrays or tensors flowing between them.

You
can add multiple CPUs or GPUs to the server or device without rewriting any
code. TensorFlow is also compatible with Python and C but could also work with
C++, Go, Java, Javascript or Swift.

1. Theano

Theano
is the first alternative to TensorFlow on our list. This library runs
completely with Python which is good for all the mathematical situations.
Theano also works with CPUs and GPUs.

A
lot of other libraries have been made with Theano in mind because it’s such an
old library, meaning it’s also very basic. In 2017, official development of the
library stopped.

2. Keras

Keras
is also written in Python and runs on top of TensorFlow, Theano and CNTK which
we’ll get to soon. This library was developed with speed in mind to get
experimentation done fast.

Keras
is straightforward and great for writing short pieces of code. However, there’s
not a whole lot of customization that can be said for Keras, but it gets the
job done if you’re looking for something much easier.

3. Torch or PyTorch

The
main difference between the two is that Torch is written in Lua while PyTorch
is written in the much more used Python. In the end, they’re much of the same.
Both are great for combining modular pieces and framework, allowing you to
choose what to implement and what to eliminate.

You
can also use them to easily switch between CPUs and GPUs. All in all, they’re
best for complex networks because they’re made to simplify things down.

4. Caffe

Caffe
basically does it all and is really popular for visual recognition is deep
learning networks. This alternative to TensorFlow supports Python, C++ and
MATLAB, so it can be picked up pretty easily. This is another library known for
its speed, able to process over 60 million images daily.

The
only real downside is that Caffe isn’t for fine-granular network layers like
TensorFlow or CNTK, which we’re still getting to. If you’re doing some complex
work, Caffe may not be for you.

5. Microsoft
Cognitive Toolkit

The
Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, also known as CNTK, is for commercial-grade
distribution and runs on Python and C++. In comparison to TensorFlow and
Theano, this alternative to TensorFlow is made to give better performance on
different devices at once.

At
the same time, in comparison to Caffe, CNTK can easily tackle complex layer
types and invent new ones. It can also handle images, speech and even
handwriting. The only drawback is that there isn’t much support and makes
mobile capabilities somewhat limited.

Deep Learning Practicality

As
the world becomes more dependent on technology, businesses are going to keep
using data as much as possible to get a leg up in their market. These
alternatives to TensorFlow can help you get a better idea of how you can use
deep learning for whatever your needs are.

There
are more customizable options out there, and you can even try making your own
if you think you’re savvy enough, so there are a lot of alternatives to try.
Whether you need speed, complexity or any of it put together, there is an
option for you.



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