Artificial neural net models have been studied for many years in the hope of achieving human-like performance in the fields of speech and image recognition. These models are composed of many nonlinear computational elements operating in parallel and arranged in patterns reminiscent of biological neural nets. Computational elements or nodes are connected via weights that are typically adapted during use to improve performance. There has been a recent resurgence in the field of artificial neural nets caused by new net topologies and algorithms, analog VLSI implementation techniques, and the belief that massive parallelism is essential for high performance speech and image recognition. This paper provides an introduction to the field of artificial neural nets by reviewing six important neural net models that can be used for pattern classification. These nets are highly parallel building blocks that illustrate neural-net components and design principles and can be used to construct more complex systems. In addition to describing these nets, a major emphasis is placed on exploring how some existing classification and clustering algorithms can be performed using simple neuron-like components. Single-layer nets can implement algorithms required by Gaussian maximum-likelihood classifiers and optimum minimum error classifiers for binary patterns corrupted by noise. More generally, the decision regions required by any classification algorithm can be generated in a straight-forward manner by three-layer feed-forward nets.