An artificial neuron network (ANN) is a computational model based on the structure and functions of biological neural networks. Information that flows through the network affects the structure of the ANN because a neural network changes - or learns, in a sense - based on that input and output.
ANNs are considered nonlinear statistical data modeling tools where the complex relationships between inputs and outputs are modeled or patterns are found.
ANN is also known as a neural network.
The simplest definition of a neural network, more properly referred to as an 'artificial' neural network (ANN), is provided by the inventor of one of the first neurocomputers, Dr. Robert Hecht-Nielsen. He defines a neural network as:
"...a computing system made up of a number of simple, highly interconnected processing elements, which process information by their dynamic state response to external inputs.
ANNs are processing devices (algorithms or actual hardware) that are loosely modeled after the neuronal structure of the mamalian cerebral cortex but on much smaller scales. A large ANN might have hundreds or thousands of processor units, whereas a mamalian brain has billions of neurons with a corresponding increase in magnitude of their overall interaction and emergent behavior. Although ANN researchers are generally not concerned with whether their networks accurately resemble biological systems, some have.
For example, researchers have accurately simulated the function of the retina and modeled the eye rather well.
Although the mathematics involved with neural networking is not a trivial matter, a user can rather easily gain at least an operational understanding of their structure and function.