A Head To Head Comparison Of PyTorch And TensorFlow


In this article, we'll explore two super important tools of Deep Learning, i.e. PyTorch and TensorFlow.

What is Machine Learning and Deep Learning?

Machine learning is about teaching computers to learn from data and make predictions or decisions based on that knowledge. Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, takes inspiration from the human brain and uses artificial neural networks to recognize patterns in data. Think of it as teaching a computer to think and make decisions like a human but with layers of computational neurons​​​​.


What is Neural Networks?

Neural networks are the fundamental building blocks of deep learning. Imagine them as a series of layers, each layer working to extract specific features from the input data. Just like how our brains process information in layers, neural networks process data hierarchically to make sense of it.

Why choose PyTorch or TensorFlow?

PyTorch and TensorFlow serve as the magic behind creating and training neural networks. They provide tools and libraries to build models, process data, and optimize performance. Here's a simplified explanation of how they work:

  • Data Preparation: Both frameworks help you load and prepare your data for training.
  • Model Creation: You design your neural network model using layers and connections.
  • Training: You feed the model with training data, and it adjusts its internal parameters to make predictions closer to the actual target values.
  • Evaluation: After training, you test the model's performance on new, unseen data.
  • Deployment: Once satisfied with a model's performance, you can deploy it in various applications.

Use Cases of PyTorch and TensorFlow

TensorFlow is used for applications like

  • Video Detection
  • Image Recognition
  • Voice and Speech Recognition
  • Text-Based Applications

PyTorch is used for

  • Handwritten Digit Recognition
  • Text Generation
  • Style Transfer
  • Forecasting Time Sequences
  • Image Classification


PyTorch is an open-source machine learning library developed by Facebook’s AI Research lab (now renamed Meta AI). It was first introduced in 2016 and has since been distributed on the BSD license as free software. The name, interestingly enough, is a combination of two words you are probably familiar with: Python and Torch. Python is the software’s user interface, while Torch is one of the first Machine Learning libraries released way back in 2002. The use of the name Torch here is more than just a subtle homage: PyTorch shares some of its C++ backend with Torch, thus allowing users to program on it using C/C++.

Pros of PyTorch

  1. PyTorch's dynamic computation graph allows for on-the-fly changes, making it ideal for research and experimentation.
  2. Python developers find PyTorch's intuitive and Pythonic API easy to learn and use.
  3. PyTorch is widely embraced by the research community, powering cutting-edge developments in AI.
  4. Access to libraries like PYRO (for probabilistic programming) and libraries for NLP and computer vision tasks.
  5. An active and vibrant community, abundant tutorials, and educational materials.

Cons of PyTorch

  1. While improving, PyTorch may require more effort for large-scale production deployment compared to TensorFlow.
  2. TensorFlow has a stronger presence in mobile and edge computing applications.
  3. PyTorch's dynamic graph can be less efficient for deploying models at scale compared to TensorFlow's static graph.


TensorFlow originates from Google’s own Machine Learning software, which was later refactored and optimized for use in production. As a result, TensorFlow was released to the world as an open-source Machine Learning library in 2015. TensorFlow’s name is also a conjunction of two keywords: Tensor and flow. A ‘tensor’ is the most basic data structure in TensorFlow. You can perform operations on these tensors by building stateful data ‘flow’ charts (similar to a flowchart) that remind the program of past events. TensorFlow has historically been seen as the go-to production-grade library. Being one of the earliest modern machine learning software available, TensorFlow has garnered a huge, diversified user base for itself. While its popularity did decline a little after PyTorch came out in 2016, Google’s 2019 release of TensorFlow 2.0 improved things. The 2.0 update is mainly aimed at making the software more accessible and user-friendly. According to the 2023 Survey, TensorFlow is the fourth most popular library.

Pros of TensorFlow

  1. TensorFlow excels at large-scale production deployment and distributed computing.
  2. Powerful visualization tool for monitoring and analyzing model performance.
  3. A rich array of specialized libraries and tools like TensorFlow Serving and TensorFlow Lite.
  4. TensorFlow's dedicated support for mobile and edge devices opens up diverse application possibilities.
  5. High-level API like Keras simplifies model building and training.

Cons of TensorFlow

  1. TensorFlow's earlier versions had a steep learning curve, though TensorFlow 2.x has improved this significantly.
  2. While TensorFlow offers both static and dynamic graphs, it may be less intuitive for research and experimentation compared to PyTorch's dynamic graph.
  3. TensorFlow models can be memory-intensive, requiring careful resource management.

Let's create a basic FNN(Feedforward Neural Network) with one hidden layer for better understanding.


import torch
import torch.nn as nn
# Defining a simple neural network class
class SimpleNN(nn.Module):
    def __init__(self, input_size, hidden_size, output_size):
        super(SimpleNN, self).__init__()
        self.fc1 = nn.Linear(input_size, hidden_size)  # Input layer to hidden layer
        self.relu = nn.ReLU()  # Activation function
        self.fc2 = nn.Linear(hidden_size, output_size)  # Hidden layer to output layer
    def forward(self, x):
        x = self.fc1(x)
        x = self.relu(x)
        x = self.fc2(x)
        return x
input_size = 10
hidden_size = 20
output_size = 5
model = SimpleNN(input_size, hidden_size, output_size)


import tensorflow as tf
# Defining a simple neural network using the Sequential API
def create_simple_nn(input_size, hidden_size, output_size):
    model = tf.keras.Sequential([
        tf.keras.layers.Dense(hidden_size, activation='relu', input_shape=(input_size,)),  # Input layer to hidden layer
        tf.keras.layers.Dense(output_size)  # Hidden layer to output layer
    return model
input_size = 10
hidden_size = 20
output_size = 5
model = create_simple_nn(input_size, hidden_size, output_size)
  1. PyTorch uses its own module system to define the neural network as a Python class inheriting from nn.Module. We define layers and their connections in the __init__ method and specify the forward pass in the forward method. In TensorFlow, we use the Keras Sequential API, which allows us to create a sequential stack of layers. We add layers one after another, specifying the input shape for the first layer, and TensorFlow handles the forward pass automatically.
  2. In PyTorch, ReLU activation function is explicitly defined as self.relu = nn.ReLU(). It's applied after the first linear layer in the forward method. In TensorFlow, the ReLU activation function is specified directly as relu when defining the hidden layer using tf.keras.layers.Dense.
  3. In PyTorch, we don't need to specify the input shape explicitly when defining layers. PyTorch can infer the input shape during the forward pass. But in TensorFlow, when using the Sequential API, we need to specify the input shape for the first layer using the input_shape argument.

Key Features Comparison

Comparing both PyTorch and TensorFlow can be challenging because the choice often depends on your specific needs and preferences. Both frameworks have their strengths and weaknesses. Let's compare them in some key aspects.

Feature PyTorch TensorFlow
Created By Facebook. Google
Graph Computation Dynamic Static
Flexibility Research and Experimentation Production and Deployment
High-Level API Pythonic and Intuitive. Keras for simplified Model building
Community Active, Growing, but Smaller Larger and Extensive
Ease of Use Ease of learning and understanding. Comparatively challenging for newcomers
Memory management Manual Automatic
Deployment tools TorchScript and PyTorch Mobile for deployment. TensorFlow Serving and TensorFlow Lite
Strengths Research, Customization, Libraries Production, Scalability, Ecosystem
Uses Computation-heavy tasks. Training Neural networks


In the end, we concluded that both Pytorch and TensorFlow are used to do various tasks. And it is not possible to say that one library is good and one is bad. PyTorch might be a good option if you want to improve debugging and development experiences and TensorFlow is a good option if you want to develop models for production and want or need to use Tensorboard.


1. Does PyTorch far better than TensorFlow?

A. When you need to perform quick research or create models that need to be changed dynamically, PyTorch is preferable to TensorFlow. It is also great when you need to work in a Python-based environment and need runtime debugging.

2. Does Google use PyTorch?

A. For its cloud platform, Google Cloud, PyTorch is actually used. The Cloud TPUs are supported by PyTorch and XLA.

3. Why are people moving from TensorFlow to PyTorch?

A. People are mainly moving towards PyTorch due to relative ease of use and time & complexity mechanism.

4. Is TensorFlow more suitable for deploying models in production?

A. Yes, TensorFlow’s graph-based execution and optimization capabilities make it well-suited for production environments.

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