Announcing The Little Learner: A Straight Line to Deep Learning

Daniel P. Friedman and I (Anurag Mendhekar) are pleased to announce that our upcoming book The Little Learner: A Straight Line to Deep Learning just got its release date, complete with a Preorder Sale (Barnes and Noble, 25%) The book comes out on 2/21/2023.

"The Little Learner" covers all the concepts necessary to develop an intuitive understanding of the workings of deep neural networks: tensors, extended operators, gradient descent algorithms, artificial neurons, dense networks, convolutional networks, residual networks and automatic differentiation.

The authors aim to explain the workings of Deep Learning to readers who may not have the mathematical sophistication necessary to read the existing literature on the subject. Unlike other books in the field, this book makes very few assumptions about background knowledge (high-school mathematics and familiarity with programming). The authors use a layered approach to construct advanced concepts from first principles using really small (“little”) programs that build on one another. This is one of the things that makes this book unique.

The other is that it introduces these ideas using a conversational style in Question/Answer format that is characteristic of the other books in the Little series. The conversational style puts the reader at ease and enables the introduction of ideas in frame-by-frame manner as opposed to being hit with a wall of text.

It is (of course!) written using elementary Scheme and the code will be released as a Racket package.


Thank you @themetaschemer :racket_heart:

I’ve added it to Books · racket/racket Wiki · GitHub

Is there a publisher page I can link to?

Best regards


This is awesome! Are you able to share the table of contents by any chance?

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I have to wait until Feb 23? The cruelty!

VERY excited to read this—I’ve wanted something like this for a long time. If you want an early reader with a mind unspoiled by any particular intelligence or preexisting deep understanding of the domain, I offer up mine. :wink:


Thanks Stephen! The MIT Press hasn't put up a page for it yet, but both Amazon and BN have.


Laurent, our ToC by itself is a bit cryptic, but should give you some idea. The sequencing goes like this: Minimal Scheme Intro for those who don't know it; Minimal machine learning by hand; Tensors; Operator extension; Gradient descent; Stochastic Gradient descent and variations; Neurons + Universal approximation; Structuring Neural networks; Classification using dense layers; Signals; Convolutional layers; and two appendices that are entirely dedicated to Automatic Differentiation.


Thanks, Pete! Will keep that in mind!

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This will definitely be on my bookshelves come winter/spring next year. Wonderful!


Hey! It looks like the book is out!

I'm super excited to buy a copy.

So now, the hard part: whom to order it from? The vendors listed on the MIT Press website are ... heavily british? They list, Blackwells,, Foyles, Hive, and Waterstones. Any opinions? Um, aside from "not Amazon", which is pretty much my first and only criterion?


Oh! A little investigation suggests that is more or less exactly what small-business zealots like me are looking for. As a side note, it's absolutely tragic that there isn't a single independent new-book dealer in this town of 54K people.


Any local bookseller should be able to order.

If you are affiliated with a educational institution with a library ask if they can purchase it for you - it doesn’t matter if your are staff or student. This may also work for community libraries.

This also applies to the other fine books listed at

Some directories of booksellers:

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I'll put in a plug for the Seminary Co-op, "the country’s first not-for-profit bookstores whose mission is bookselling." It's on special order right now (which only adds a few days), but they're very likely to stock it if people order it. (They have actual human booksellers empowered to make decisions about books that seem interesting.)

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I pre-ordered the book a couple months ago on I got a pleasant surprise a few days ago when they charged my credit card, which they do only when they ship the book. Very much looking forward to diving in!

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Got my copy yesterday! Very excited.

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Just a note, I get a bad cert domain error when trying to use the link for semcoop.