A single neuron with 2 weights and identity activation can learn addition/subtraction as the 2 weights will converge to 1 and 1 (addition), or 1 and -1 (subtraction).

However, for multiplication and division, it's not that easy. Can a single neuron learn multiplication or division? If not, how many layers of DNN can learn these?


In reallity any continous function on a compact can be approximated by a neural network having one hidden layer with a finite number of neurones (This is the Universal Approximation Theorem). Thus you only need one hidden layer to approximate the multiplication on a compact, note that you need to apply a non linear activation on the hidden layer to do this.

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  • $\begingroup$ A Neural network cannot approximate an unbounded function. $\endgroup$ – DuttaA Jan 3 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ All functions are bounded on a compact $\endgroup$ – hola Jan 3 at 19:44

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