Machine learning facilitated business intelligence (Part II): Neural networks optimization techniques and applications

Waqar Ahmed Khan, S. H. Chung, Muhammad Usman Awan, Xin Wen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is three-fold: to review the categories explaining mainly optimization algorithms (techniques) in that needed to improve the generalization performance and learning speed of the Feedforward Neural Network (FNN); to discover the change in research trends by analyzing all six categories (i.e. gradient learning algorithms for network training, gradient free learning algorithms, optimization algorithms for learning rate, bias and variance (underfitting and overfitting) minimization algorithms, constructive topology neural networks, metaheuristic search algorithms) collectively; and recommend new research directions for researchers and facilitate users to understand algorithms real-world applications in solving complex management, engineering and health sciences problems. Design/methodology/approach: The FNN has gained much attention from researchers to make a more informed decision in the last few decades. The literature survey is focused on the learning algorithms and the optimization techniques proposed in the last three decades. This paper (Part II) is an extension of Part I. For the sake of simplicity, the paper entitled “Machine learning facilitated business intelligence (Part I): Neural networks learning algorithms and applications” is referred to as Part I. To make the study consistent with Part I, the approach and survey methodology in this paper are kept similar to those in Part I. Findings: Combining the work performed in Part I, the authors studied a total of 80 articles through popular keywords searching. The FNN learning algorithms and optimization techniques identified in the selected literature are classified into six categories based on their problem identification, mathematical model, technical reasoning and proposed solution. Previously, in Part I, the two categories focusing on the learning algorithms (i.e. gradient learning algorithms for network training, gradient free learning algorithms) are reviewed with their real-world applications in management, engineering, and health sciences. Therefore, in the current paper, Part II, the remaining four categories, exploring optimization techniques (i.e. optimization algorithms for learning rate, bias and variance (underfitting and overfitting) minimization algorithms, constructive topology neural networks, metaheuristic search algorithms) are studied in detail. The algorithm explanation is made enriched by discussing their technical merits, limitations, and applications in their respective categories. Finally, the authors recommend future new research directions which can contribute to strengthening the literature. Research limitations/implications: The FNN contributions are rapidly increasing because of its ability to make reliably informed decisions. Like learning algorithms, reviewed in Part I, the focus is to enrich the comprehensive study by reviewing remaining categories focusing on the optimization techniques. However, future efforts may be needed to incorporate other algorithms into identified six categories or suggest new category to continuously monitor the shift in the research trends. Practical implications: The authors studied the shift in research trend for three decades by collectively analyzing the learning algorithms and optimization techniques with their applications. This may help researchers to identify future research gaps to improve the generalization performance and learning speed, and user to understand the applications areas of the FNN. For instance, research contribution in FNN in the last three decades has changed from complex gradient-based algorithms to gradient free algorithms, trial and error hidden units fixed topology approach to cascade topology, hyperparameters initial guess to analytically calculation and converging algorithms at a global minimum rather than the local minimum. Originality/value: The existing literature surveys include comparative study of the algorithms, identifying algorithms application areas and focusing on specific techniques in that it may not be able to identify algorithms categories, a shift in research trends over time, application area frequently analyzed, common research gaps and collective future directions. Part I and II attempts to overcome the existing literature surveys limitations by classifying articles into six categories covering a wide range of algorithm proposed to improve the FNN generalization performance and convergence rate. The classification of algorithms into six categories helps to analyze the shift in research trend which makes the classification scheme significant and innovative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-163
Number of pages36
JournalIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019


  • Data analytics
  • Feedforward neural network
  • Industrial management
  • Machine learning
  • Optimization techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Industrial relations
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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