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I'm looking to design a neural network that can predict which runner wins in a sports game, where the amount of runners varies between 2-10. In each case, specific data about the individual runners would be fed into the neural network.

What design would be most advantageous for such a neural network?

Essentially this is a ranking problem where the amount of inputs and outputs are variable.

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  • $\begingroup$ Downvoter reveal yourself, what's the problem with that question? $\endgroup$ – Nickpick Oct 16 '17 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ +1 Hi @nickpick, can you explain a little bit what you mean by "specific data about the individual runners would be fed into the neural network." ? Can you give an example or two? Ps, I'm not the down-voter(s) :) $\endgroup$ – Tshilidzi Mudau Oct 17 '17 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ For example, weight, average speed in previous races, heigth, nationality etc $\endgroup$ – Nickpick Oct 17 '17 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ @nickpick yeah, it's a problem on this site - ai.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1313/… $\endgroup$ – Maxim Oct 17 '17 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to AI. Glad this question garnered several upvotes! $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Oct 18 '17 at 20:17
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The best option in your case would probably be zero padding or padding up. This is simply zeroing out inputs for cases in which there is no data. It's done a lot on the borders of images for CNNs.

That or you could just use a RNN which can handle your variable length inputs with ease.

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  • $\begingroup$ But can the amount of output neurones vary in accordance with how many inputs are made in a RNN? This would be necessary to rank the individual runners. $\endgroup$ – Nickpick Oct 18 '17 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, RNNs can handle variable length outputs as well. $\endgroup$ – hisairnessag3 Oct 18 '17 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ Are there any examples or documentations? I’m using keras $\endgroup$ – Nickpick Oct 18 '17 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ Keras Docs on RNNs: keras.io/layers/recurrent Github issue on this for Keras: github.com/fchollet/keras/issues/40 $\endgroup$ – hisairnessag3 Oct 18 '17 at 23:54

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