The simulation of human intelligence using machines was and is always a challenge to ingenuity. In the middle of this century a research discipline calling itself Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerged. The definition for the term AI is very indistinct; this has its major reason in the fact that there is no commonly accepted definition for `intelligence'. The most comprehensive definition for AI includes all research aimed to simulate intelligent behaviour.
Despite the availability of massive computational power the results of current research are far from the aims proposed in the enthusiasm of the 1950's and 60's. Nevertheless systems built to simulate intelligence in a limited domain, such as expert systems in medicine or forecasting applications, are already successfully used.
Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) are of major research interest at present, involving researchers of many different disciplines. Subjects contributing to this research include biology, computing, electronics, mathematics, medicine, physics, and psychology. The approaches to this topic are very diverse, as are the aims. The basic idea is to use the knowledge of the nervous system and the human brain to design intelligent artificial systems.
On one side biologists and psychologists are trying to model and understand the brain and parts of the nervous system and searching for explanations for human behaviour and reasons for the limitations of the brain.
On the other, computer scientists and electronic engineers are searching for efficient ways to solve problems for which conventional computers are currently used. Biological and psychological models and ideas are often the resource of inspiration for these scientists.
In the computing environment the term Neural Network (NN) is usually used as synonym for artificial neural network.