AWS & Microsoft make machine learning easy with open source Gluon

Amazon & Microsoft glues together

Amazon & Microsoft glues together

While Microsoft has been doggedly chasing Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud computing arena, the two tech giants have partnered on a new deep learning initiative called Gluon.

The Gluon API specification is an effort to improve speed, flexibility, and accessibility of deep learning technology for all developers, regardless of their deep learning framework of choice.

Created to allow developers to build and run machine learning models for apps and services, one of its key selling points is that it's created to be used by developers of all abilities. However, these engines require developers to define the models and algorithms up-front using lengthy, complex code that is hard to change.

It's desribed as an interface that lets developers of varying skill levels use Python and pre-built deep learning templates to simplify the building of models to run neural networks.

The Gluon interface gives developers the best of both worlds - a concise, easy-to-understand programming interface that enables developers to quickly prototype and experiment with neural network models, and a training method that has minimal impact on the speed of the underlying engine.

Gluon: "An elementary particle that acts as the exchange particle for the strong force between quarks", and now a deep learning interface that's been created by AWS and Microsoft. Fourth, it provides these benefits without slowing down the training process.

Available on GitHub here, Gluon now supports Apache MXNet.

"Today's reality is that building and training machine learning models requires a great deal of heavy lifting and specialised expertise", Swami Sivasubramanian, Vice President of Amazon AI was quoted as saying. We created the Gluon interface so building neural networks and training models can be as easy as building an app. Based on this, we got talking, and found we had a similar vision: "to use these techniques to reduce the complexity of machine learning, making it accessible to more developers", said Matt Wood, AWS general manager of AI, in a blog post. "We believe it is important for the industry to work together and pool resources to build technology that benefits the broader community. To make this happen we need to put the right tools in the right hands and the "Gluon" interface is a step in this direction", Boyd added.

Microsoft and Amazon are already working together in the realm of AI - in August they embarked on a joint endeavour to enable their respective Cortana and Alexa Assistants to communicate with each other.