# What's the math for real world back-propagation?

Considering a simple ANN:

$$x \rightarrow f=(U_{m\times n}x^T)^T \rightarrow g = g(f) \rightarrow h = (V_{p \times m}g^T)^T \rightarrow L = L(h,y)$$

where $x\in\mathbb{R}^n$, $U$ and $V$ are matrices, $g$ is the point-wise sigmoid function, $L$ returns a real number indicating the loss by comparing the output $h$ with target $y$, and finally $\rightarrow$ represents data flow.

To minimize $L$ over $U$ and $V$ using gradient descent, we need to know $\frac{\partial L}{\partial U_{ij}}$ and $\frac{\partial L}{\partial V_{ij}}$, I know two ways to do this:

1. do the differentiation point wise, and having a hard time figuring out how to vectorize it
2. flatten $U$ and $V$ into a row vector, and use multivariate calculus (takes a vector, yields a vector) to do the differentiation

For the purpose of tutorial or illustration, the above two methods might be suffice, but say if you really want to implement back-prop by hand in the real world, what math will you use to do the derivative? I mean, is there a branch, or method in meth, that teaches you how to take derivative of vector-valued function of matrices?

• You can use the delta rule. Lots of material on this. Sep 21, 2017 at 11:50

You might also want to look up Autodifferentiation. This is sort of a generalisation of the Chain Rule, such that it's possible to decompose any composite function, i.e. $a(x) = f(g(x))$, and calculate the gradient of the loss with respect to $g$ as a function of the gradient of the loss with respect to $f$.