The application of machine learning (ML) techniques in materials science has attracted significant attention in recent years, due to their impressive ability to efficiently extract data-driven linkages from various input materials representations to their output properties. While the application of traditional ML techniques has become quite ubiquitous, there have been limited applications of more advanced deep learning (DL) techniques, primarily because big materials datasets are relatively rare. Given the demonstrated potential and advantages of DL and the increasing availability of big materials datasets, it is attractive to go for deeper neural networks in a bid to boost model performance, but in reality, it leads to performance degradation due to the vanishing gradient problem. In this paper, we address the question of how to enable deeper learning for cases where big materials data is available. Here, we present a general deep learning framework based on Individual Residual learning (IRNet) composed of very deep neural networks that can work with any vector-based materials representation as input to build accurate property prediction models. We find that the proposed IRNet models can not only successfully alleviate the vanishing gradient problem and enable deeper learning, but also lead to significantly (up to 47%) better model accuracy as compared to plain deep neural networks and traditional ML techniques for a given input materials representation in the presence of big data.
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