What are the Radial Basis Functions Neural Networks?

Mounish V 10 Jul, 2024
3 min read


Radial Basis Function Neural Networks (RBFNNs) are a type of neural network that uses radial basis functions for activation. They are effective in applications like pattern-recognition, interpolation, and timeseries forecasting. Unlike conventional neural networks that employ different activation functions across multiple neuron layers, RBFNNs feature a unique structure that enhances their performance in specific scenarios.

 Radial Basis Functions Neural Networks


  • Basics of Radial Basis Function Neural Networks (RBFNNs).
  • Recognize the components that make up RBFNNs.
  • Learn the uses of RBFNNs.
  • Learn the role of Radial Basis Functions in neural networks.

 Radial Basis Functions Neural Networks

 Radial Basis Functions Neural Networks

Components and Architecture

RBFNNs consist of three layers: the input layer, the hidden layer with radial basis functions, and the output layer.

  1. Input Layer: This layer takes in the initial data and passes it along to the hidden layer.
  2. Hidden Layer: Acting as the heart of the RBFNN, each neuron here utilizes a radial basis function on the input data. Typically, a Gaussian function is employed. Each neuron’s output represents the distance between the input vector and the neuron’s center, modified by the radial basis function.
  3. Output Layer: This layer generates the final network output, which generally merges the hidden layer outputs through a weighted sum.

Also Read: Introduction to Neural Network in Machine Learning

Radial Basis Functions

Radial Basis Functions (RBFs) are utilized to calculate distances. Among these, the Gaussian function is the most frequently employed, defined as:

Radial Basis Functions

Where x is the input vector, c is the center of the RBF, and sigma is the spread parameter. The RBF measures how close the input is to the center c.

Other types of RBFs include the multi-quadratic function and the inverse multi-quadratic function. The choice of RBF can affect the network’s performance, but the Gaussian function is generally preferred for its smooth and localized properties.

Training RBFNNs

Training an RBFNN involves determining the parameters of the radial basis functions (centers and spreads) and the weights of the output layer. This is typically done in two stages:

  1. Determining Centers and Spreads: The centers can be selected using methods like k-means clustering, where each cluster center becomes a center of an RBF. The spreads are often determined based on the distances between the centers.
  2. Learning Weights: Once the centers and spreads are fixed, the weights of the output layer can be learned using linear regression techniques. This makes training RBFNNs relatively fast compared to traditional neural networks.

Applications of RBFNNs

RBFNNs have a vast application due to their ability to approximate complex functions and handle non-linear data. Some common applications include:

  • Pattern Identification: RBFNNs excel at identifying patterns within datasets, making them ideal for image and speech identification.
  • Continuous Function Estimation: They are good at estimating continuous functions, which benefits applications like curve fitting and modeling surfaces.
  • Forecasting Timeseries Data: RBFNNs can forecast future data in timeseries, which helps in financial market predictions and also weather forecasting.

Also Read: Deep Learning 101: Beginners Guide to Neural Network


RBFNNs help manage non-linear data and execute tasks like pattern recognition, function approximation, and timeseries forecasting. These networks utilize RBFs to deliver precise and effective outcomes in numerous machine-learning scenarios. Gaining insights into their structure, training methodology, and applications can aid in successfully deploying RBFNNs for various computational challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the main components of RBFNNs?

Ans. An RBFNN consists of 3 main components: the input layer, the hidden layer with radial basis functions, and the output layer.

Q2. What are the advantages of using RBFNNs?

Ans. RBFNNs offer advantages such as the ability to handle non-linear data, fast training due to linear weight optimization, and effectiveness in pattern recognition and function approximation tasks.

Q3. How are the centers and spreads of radial basis functions determined?

Ans. Centers are often selected using clustering methods like k-means, while spreads can be determined based on the distances between the centers.

Q4. How do Gaussian functions work in RBFNNs?

Ans. The Gaussian functions measure the distance between the input vector and the center of the radial basis function, transforming this distance to produce the output of the hidden layer neuron.

Q5. What are the common applications of RBFNNs?

Ans. RBFNNs are used in function approximation and time-series prediction due to their ability to handle non-linear data and approximate complex functions.

Mounish V 10 Jul, 2024

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