Activation Functions in Neural Networks: An Overview!

Investment Banker Analyst

The formation of neural networks is similar to the neurons of our brain. Here, the product inputs of say X1 and X2 with weights say W1 and W2, are added with bias or "b" and acted upon an activation function of ‘f’ to get the result as "y".

The actuation work is the main factor in neural network training, which chose whether or not a neuron will act and move to the following layer. This implies that it will determine whether the neuron’s contribution to the network is pertinent or not during the prediction process.

It is also why the activation work is called the transformation or threshold for all the neurons that result in network convergence.

The activation work is also useful for normalizing output ranges such as -1 to 1 or 0 to 1. Moreover, it is helpful during backpropagation. Now, the most important reason for such utility is the fact that neurons possess some differential property.

Besides, during the journey of backpropagation, there is an update of the loss function takes place. Moreover, the activation function leads to the gradient descent arches and curves to reach what we call their local minima.

Further, in the post, you will better understand the activation functions that are part of a whole neural network.

What are the different types of activation functions?

Here is a compact list of the vast varieties of activation functions that form part of a neural network.

Linear function

Let us start with the most fundamental function that defines being proportional to a particular unit. If you consider the equation, Y= az, you will realize its similarity with a typical equation of the straight line. Moreover, you get an activation range that starts from -inf and ends at +inf. Therefore, a linear function is the most suitable when you are solving a regression problem. For example, calculation or prediction of housing prices is a regression problem.


The Rectified Linear Unit or ReLU is the most popular among all other activation functions. Besides, you will only find this function under the deeper layers of any learning model. Moreover, the formula, in this case, is straightforward. If an input implies a positive figure, then the same value comes back as ‘0.’ Therefore, the derivative concept here is straightforward.


An ELU or Exponential Linear Unit helps in overcoming a dying ReLU problem. Everything in this function is almost the same as a ReLU apart from the negative value concept. Here, the process gets back to the exact value if it is positive, or else the result is alpha(exp(x)-1). In this equation, for positive value, ‘alpha’ and ‘1’ is the constant and derivative, respectively. Moreover, the equation focus is ‘0’.


However, a little different from ReLU, the LeakyReLU function gives out the same output against positive inputs. In the case of different values, a fixed 0.01 is the output. The LeakyReLU function is mainly important when you want to solve any dying ReLU equation.


Parameterized Rectified Linear Unit or PReLU is another variety of ReLU and LeakyReLU and negative qualities registered as an alpha*input. Unlike a Leaky ReLU here, the alpha is not is 0.01. So, in this case, the PReLU alpha value will come out through backpropagation.


Sigmoid is one of the non-linear actuation functions. Otherwise called the Logistic work, it is constant and monotonic. Moreover, the yield is standardized in the reach 0 to 1. Also, it is highly differentiable and results in a gradient blend. Sigmoid is generally utilized before the result layers in binary order.


A Hyperbolic tangent activation or Tanh value goes from - 1 and ends at 1. Moreover, the subordinate qualities range between 0 and 1. Besides, a tanh function is zero driven. Furthermore, it performs in a way that is better than the sigmoid function. Ultimately, they are utilized in binary order for hidden layers.


This activation work returns possibilities of the contributions as the results. The possibilities will be utilized to discover the objective class. The Last consequence will be only the one with the most elevated probability.


It is a sort of ReLU work. It is one of the self-ground works where the only requirement is the info. Moreover, there are no extra parameters in this case. Equation y = x * sigmoid(x) is generally utilized in LSTMs. A Swish function is Zero driven and takes care of a dead activation issue.


It is next to impossible to find 0’s derivative using numeric functions. Most of the neuronic functions have fizzled eventually because of this issue. The softplus actuation work is the only solution in this case. the formula of y = ln(1 + exp(x)) is like ReLU. However, this function is easier and goes from 0 and ends in infinity.

Here is a list of all the general activation functions that form a part of a complete neural network process.

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