What is Neural Network: LLMs Explained




A neural network diagram

In the realm of artificial intelligence, the term ‘Neural Network’ is a cornerstone, serving as the foundation for many advanced models, including Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. This article aims to unravel the complexity of neural networks and their role in LLMs, providing an in-depth understanding of these fascinating constructs.

Neural networks, inspired by the human brain’s intricate web of neurons, are a series of algorithms that endeavor to recognize underlying relationships in a set of data through a process that mimics the way the human brain operates. This article will delve into the various aspects of neural networks, their types, and how they contribute to the functioning of LLMs.

Understanding Neural Networks

Neural networks are a subset of machine learning and are at the heart of deep learning algorithms. They are designed to interpret sensory data through a kind of machine perception, labeling or clustering raw input. The patterns they recognize are numerical, contained in vectors, into which all real-world data, be it images, sound, text or time series, must be translated.

Neural networks help us cluster and classify. You can think of them as a clustering and classification layer on top of the data you store and manage. They help to group unlabeled data according to similarities among the example inputs, and they classify data when they have a labeled dataset to train on.

Components of Neural Networks

Neural networks are composed of nodes (or neurons) which are organized into layers. These layers include an input layer, one or more hidden layers, and an output layer. Each node in a layer is connected to every node in the next layer, forming a fully connected network. The connections between nodes are associated with a weight, which is a numerical value that is adjusted during the learning process.

The nodes themselves contain an activation function, which determines whether and to what extent that node should be activated based on the weighted sum of its inputs. The activation function introduces non-linearity into the model, enabling it to learn from more complex datasets.

Training Neural Networks

Training a neural network involves adjusting the weights of the connections based on the error of the network’s output compared to the expected output. This is typically done using a method called backpropagation, which involves propagating the error backwards through the network and adjusting the weights accordingly.

The training process also involves a concept called gradient descent, which is a way of finding the minimum of a function. In the context of neural networks, the function we’re trying to minimize is the error function, and gradient descent provides a way of adjusting the weights in the direction that reduces the error the most.

Types of Neural Networks

There are several types of neural networks, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, and each suited to different types of tasks. The most commonly used types include feedforward neural networks, convolutional neural networks, and recurrent neural networks.

Feedforward neural networks are the simplest type of neural network. In this type of network, information moves in only one direction—forward—through the layers. Convolutional neural networks are designed to process data with a grid-like topology, such as an image, which is a grid of pixels. Recurrent neural networks, on the other hand, are designed to work with sequential data, by maintaining a hidden state that can remember information about previous parts of the sequence.

Feedforward Neural Networks

Feedforward neural networks are the simplest type of neural network. In this type of network, information moves in only one direction—forward—from the input nodes, through the hidden nodes (if any), and to the output nodes. There are no cycles or loops in the network.

Feedforward neural networks tend to be straightforward and efficient to train, but they lack the ability to handle temporal or sequential data, because they have no memory of previous inputs. This makes them less suitable for tasks like natural language processing or time series prediction, which involve sequential data.

Convolutional Neural Networks

Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are a type of neural network that are especially effective for processing visual data. CNNs are designed to automatically and adaptively learn spatial hierarchies of features from visual data.

CNNs are composed of one or more convolutional layers, followed by one or more fully connected layers as in a standard multilayer neural network. The architecture of a CNN is designed to take advantage of the 2D structure of an input image (or other 2D input such as a speech signal).

Neural Networks in Large Language Models

Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT make use of a specific type of neural network known as a transformer neural network. These networks are designed to handle sequential data, making them ideal for natural language processing tasks.

Section Image

Transformer networks, like other neural networks, consist of an input layer, an output layer, and several hidden layers. However, they also include additional components such as attention mechanisms that allow the model to focus on different parts of the input sequence when generating the output sequence.

Transformer Neural Networks

Transformer neural networks are a type of recurrent neural network that use self-attention mechanisms to weigh the importance of different inputs in a sequence. This allows them to handle long-range dependencies in the data, making them particularly well-suited to tasks like machine translation and text generation.

The key innovation of transformer networks is the self-attention mechanism, which allows the network to weigh the importance of different inputs in a sequence. This is done by computing a score for each input, which is then used to weight the contribution of that input to the output. This allows the network to focus on the most relevant parts of the input when generating the output.

ChatGPT and Neural Networks

ChatGPT, a model developed by OpenAI, is an example of a Large Language Model that uses a transformer neural network. It is trained on a large corpus of text data and can generate human-like text based on a given prompt.

The neural network in ChatGPT consists of 175 billion parameters, making it one of the largest and most powerful language models to date. These parameters are trained using a variant of the transformer architecture, which allows the model to generate coherent and contextually relevant responses over long conversations.


Neural networks form the backbone of many advanced AI models, including Large Language Models like ChatGPT. By understanding the basics of neural networks, their types, and their role in LLMs, we can better appreciate the complexity and power of these models.

While this article provides a comprehensive overview of neural networks and their role in LLMs, the field of AI is constantly evolving, with new models and techniques being developed all the time. As such, it’s important to continue learning and staying up-to-date with the latest developments in this exciting field.

Share this content

Latest posts