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Developer(s)Google Brain Team[1]
Initial releaseNovember 9, 2015; 5 years ago (2015-11-09)
Stable release
2.4.1[2] / January 21, 2021; 4 months ago (2021-01-21)
Written inPython, C++, CUDA
PlatformLinux, macOS, Windows, Android, JavaScript[3]
TypeMachine learning library
LicenseApache License 2.0

TensorFlow is a free and open-source software library for machine learning. It can be used across a range of tasks but has a particular focus on training and inference of deep neural networks.[4][5]

Tensorflow is a symbolic math library based on dataflow and differentiable programming. It is used for both research and production at Google.[6][7][8]

TensorFlow was developed by the Google Brain team for internal Google use. It was released under the Apache License 2.0 in 2015.[1][9]



Starting in 2011, Google Brain built DistBelief as a proprietary machine learning system based on deep learning neural networks. Its use grew rapidly across diverse Alphabet companies in both research and commercial applications.[10][11] Google assigned multiple computer scientists, including Jeff Dean, to simplify and refactor the codebase of DistBelief into a faster, more robust application-grade library, which became TensorFlow.[12] In 2009, the team, led by Geoffrey Hinton, had implemented generalized backpropagation and other improvements which allowed generation of neural networks with substantially higher accuracy, for instance a 25% reduction in errors in speech recognition.[13]


TensorFlow is Google Brain's second-generation system. Version 1.0.0 was released on February 11, 2017.[14] While the reference implementation runs on single devices, TensorFlow can run on multiple CPUs and GPUs (with optional CUDA and SYCL extensions for general-purpose computing on graphics processing units).[15] TensorFlow is available on 64-bit Linux, macOS, Windows, and mobile computing platforms including Android and iOS.

Its flexible architecture allows for the easy deployment of computation across a variety of platforms (CPUs, GPUs, TPUs), and from desktops to clusters of servers to mobile and edge devices.

TensorFlow computations are expressed as stateful dataflow graphs. The name TensorFlow derives from the operations that such neural networks perform on multidimensional data arrays, which are referred to as tensors. During the Google I/O Conference in June 2016, Jeff Dean stated that 1,500 repositories on GitHub mentioned TensorFlow, of which only 5 were from Google.[16]

In December 2017, developers from Google, Cisco, RedHat, CoreOS, and CaiCloud introduced Kubeflow at a conference. Kubeflow allows operation and deployment of TensorFlow on Kubernetes.

In March 2018, Google announced TensorFlow.js version 1.0 for machine learning in JavaScript.[17]

In Jan 2019, Google announced TensorFlow 2.0.[18] It became officially available in Sep 2019.[19]

In May 2019, Google announced TensorFlow Graphics for deep learning in computer graphics.[20]

Tensor processing unit (TPU)

Main page: Engineering:Tensor processing unit

In May 2016, Google announced its Tensor processing unit (TPU), an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC, a hardware chip) built specifically for machine learning and tailored for TensorFlow. A TPU is a programmable AI accelerator designed to provide high throughput of low-precision arithmetic (e.g., 8-bit), and oriented toward using or running models rather than training them. Google announced they had been running TPUs inside their data centers for more than a year, and had found them to deliver an order of magnitude better-optimized performance per watt for machine learning.[21]

In May 2017, Google announced the second-generation, as well as the availability of the TPUs in Google Compute Engine.[22] The second-generation TPUs deliver up to 180 teraflops of performance, and when organized into clusters of 64 TPUs, provide up to 11.5 petaflops.

In May 2018, Google announced the third-generation TPUs delivering up to 420 teraflops of performance and 128 GB high bandwidth memory (HBM). Cloud TPU v3 Pods offer 100+ petaflops of performance and 32 TB HBM.[23]

In February 2018, Google announced that they were making TPUs available in beta on the Google Cloud Platform.[24]

Edge TPU

In July 2018, the Edge TPU was announced. Edge TPU is Google's purpose-built ASIC chip designed to run TensorFlow Lite machine learning (ML) models on small client computing devices such as smartphones[25] known as edge computing.

TensorFlow Lite

In May 2017, Google announced a software stack specifically for mobile development, TensorFlow Lite.[26] In January 2019, TensorFlow team released a developer preview of the mobile GPU inference engine with OpenGL ES 3.1 Compute Shaders on Android devices and Metal Compute Shaders on iOS devices.[27] In May 2019, Google announced that their TensorFlow Lite Micro (also known as TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers) and ARM's uTensor would be merging.[28]

TensorFlow Lite uses FlatBuffers as the data serialization format for network models, eschewing the Protocol Buffers format used by standard TensorFlow models.

Pixel Visual Core (PVC)

In October 2017, Google released the Google Pixel 2 which featured their Pixel Visual Core (PVC), a fully programmable image, vision and AI processor for mobile devices. The PVC supports TensorFlow for machine learning (and Halide for image processing).


Google officially released RankBrain on October 26, 2015, backed by TensorFlow.

Google also released Colaboratory, which is a TensorFlow Jupyter notebook environment that requires no setup to use.[29]

Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC)

On March 1, 2018, Google released its Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC). Originally designed to help equip Google employees with practical artificial intelligence and machine learning fundamentals, Google rolled out its free TensorFlow workshops in several cities around the world before finally releasing the course to the public.[30]

TensorFlow 2.0

As TensorFlow's market share among research papers was declining to the advantage of PyTorch[31], the TensorFlow Team announced a release of a new major version of the library in September 2019. TensorFlow 2.0 introduced many changes, the most significant being TensorFlow eager, which changed the automatic differentiation scheme from the static computational graph, to the "Define-by-Run" scheme originally made popular by Chainer and later PyTorch.[32] Other major changes included removal of old libraries, cross-compatibility between trained models on different versions of TensorFlow, and significant improvements to the performance on GPU.[33][non-primary source needed]


TensorFlow provides stable Python (for version 3.7 across all platforms)[34] and C APIs;[35] and without API backwards compatibility guarantee: C++, Go, Java,[36] JavaScript[3] and Swift (archived and development has ceased).[37][38] Third-party packages are available for C#,[39][40] Haskell,[41] Julia,[42] MATLAB,[43] R,[44] Scala,[45] Rust,[46] OCaml,[47] and Crystal.[48]

"New language support should be built on top of the C API. However, [..] not all functionality is available in C yet."[49] Some more functionality is provided by the Python API.


Original photo (left) and with TensorFlow neural style applied (right)

Among the applications for which TensorFlow is the foundation, are automated image-captioning software, such as DeepDream.[50]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Credits". 
  2. "TensorFlow Release" (in en-US). 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "TensorFlow.js". 
  4. Abadi, Martín; Barham, Paul; Chen, Jianmin; Chen, Zhifeng; Davis, Andy; Dean, Jeffrey; Devin, Matthieu; Ghemawat, Sanjay et al. (2016). TensorFlow: A System for Large-Scale Machine Learning. 
  5. Google (2015). TensorFlow: Open source machine learning. "It is machine learning software being used for various kinds of perceptual and language understanding tasks" – Jeffrey Dean, minute 0:47 / 2:17 from YouTube clip
  6. Video clip by Google about TensorFlow 2015 at minute 0:15/2:17
  7. Video clip by Google about TensorFlow 2015 at minute 0:26/2:17
  8. Dean et al 2015, p. 2
  9. Metz, Cade (November 9, 2015). "Google Just Open Sourced TensorFlow, Its Artificial Intelligence Engine". 
  10. Dean, Jeff; Monga, Rajat; Ghemawat, Sanjay (November 9, 2015). "TensorFlow: Large-scale machine learning on heterogeneous systems". Google Research. 
  11. Perez, Sarah (November 9, 2015). "Google Open-Sources The Machine Learning Tech Behind Google Photos Search, Smart Reply And More". 
  12. Oremus, Will (November 9, 2015). "What Is TensorFlow, and Why Is Google So Excited About It?". 
  13. Ward-Bailey, Jeff (November 25, 2015). "Google chairman: We're making 'real progress' on artificial intelligence". 
  14. "Tensorflow Release 1.0.0". 
  15. Metz, Cade (November 10, 2015). "TensorFlow, Google's Open Source AI, Points to a Fast-Changing Hardware World". 
  16. Machine Learning: Google I/O 2016 Minute 07:30/44:44 accessdate=2016-06-05
  17. TensorFlow (2018-03-30). "Introducing TensorFlow.js: Machine Learning in Javascript". 
  18. TensorFlow (2019-01-14). "What's coming in TensorFlow 2.0". 
  19. TensorFlow (2019-09-30). "TensorFlow 2.0 is now available!". 
  20. TensorFlow (2019-05-09). "Introducing TensorFlow Graphics: Computer Graphics Meets Deep Learning". 
  21. Jouppi, Norm. "Google supercharges machine learning tasks with TPU custom chip". 
  22. "Build and train machine learning models on our new Google Cloud TPUs". Google. May 17, 2017. 
  23. "Cloud TPU". 
  24. "Cloud TPU machine learning accelerators now available in beta". Google Cloud Platform Blog. 
  25. Kundu, Kishalaya (2018-07-26). "Google Announces Edge TPU, Cloud IoT Edge at Cloud Next 2018" (in en-US). 
  26. "Google's new machine learning framework is going to put more AI on your phone". 
  27. TensorFlow (2019-01-16). "TensorFlow Lite Now Faster with Mobile GPUs (Developer Preview)". 
  28. "uTensor and Tensor Flow Announcement | Mbed". 
  29. "Colaboratory – Google" (in en). 
  30. "Machine Learning Crash Course with TensorFlow APIs" (in en). 
  31. He, Horace (10 October 2019). "The State of Machine Learning Frameworks in 2019". The Gradient. 
  32. He, Horace (10 October 2019). "The State of Machine Learning Frameworks in 2019". The Gradient. 
  33. "TensorFlow 2.0 is now available!". TensorFlow Blog. 30 September 2019. 
  34. "All symbols in TensorFlow | TensorFlow" (in en). 
  35. "TensorFlow Version Compatibility | TensorFlow" (in en). "Some API functions are explicitly marked as "experimental" and can change in backward incompatible ways between minor releases. These include other languages" 
  36. "API Documentation". 
  37. TensorFlow (2018-04-26). "Introducing Swift For TensorFlow" (in en). "not just a TensorFlow API wrapper written in Swift" 
  38. "Swift for Tensorflow is being archived and development has ceased" (in en). "As S4TF heads into maintenance mode, it’s a bit Exploding head to reflect on how much I’ve learned." 
  39. Icaza, Miguel de (2018-02-17). "TensorFlowSharp: TensorFlow API for .NET languages". 
  40. Chen, Haiping (2018-12-11). "TensorFlow.NET: .NET Standard bindings for TensorFlow". 
  41. "haskell: Haskell bindings for TensorFlow". tensorflow. 2018-02-17. 
  42. Malmaud, Jon (2019-08-12). "A Julia wrapper for TensorFlow". "operations like sin, * (matrix multiplication), .* (element-wise multiplication), etc [..]. Compare to Python, which requires learning specialized namespaced functions like tf.matmul." 
  43. "A MATLAB wrapper for TensorFlow Core". 2019-11-03. 
  44. "tensorflow: TensorFlow for R". RStudio. 2018-02-17. 
  45. Platanios, Anthony (2018-02-17). "tensorflow_scala: TensorFlow API for the Scala Programming Language". 
  46. "rust: Rust language bindings for TensorFlow". tensorflow. 2018-02-17. 
  47. Mazare, Laurent (2018-02-16). "tensorflow-ocaml: OCaml bindings for TensorFlow". 
  48. "fazibear/" (in en). 
  49. "TensorFlow in other languages | TensorFlow Core" (in en). 
  50. Byrne, Michael (November 11, 2015). "Google Offers Up Its Entire Machine Learning Library as Open-Source Software". 


External links