How Researchers Use Diagrams in Communicating Neural Network Systems

28 Aug 2020  ·  Guy Clarke Marshall, André Freitas, Caroline Jay ·

Neural networks are a prevalent and effective machine learning component, and their application is leading to significant scientific progress in many domains. As the field of neural network systems is fast growing, it is important to understand how advances are communicated. Diagrams are key to this, appearing in almost all papers describing novel systems. This paper reports on a study into the use of neural network system diagrams, through interviews, card sorting, and qualitative feedback structured around ecologically-derived examples. We find high diversity of usage, perception and preference in both creation and interpretation of diagrams, examining this in the context of existing design, information visualisation, and user experience guidelines. Considering the interview data alongside existing guidance, we propose guidelines aiming to improve the way in which neural network system diagrams are constructed.

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