# How to interpret smooth l1 loss?

I was hoping to understand what the smooth $$l_1$$ loss does, but I’m not able to find any good explanation of online, I know $$l_1$$ loss calculates the absolute error, but what is the use of smooth $$L_1$$, any answers would be helpful.

Smooth L1-loss can be interpreted as a combination of L1-loss and L2-loss. It behaves as L1-loss when the absolute value of the argument is high, and it behaves like L2-loss when the absolute value of the argument is close to zero. The equation is:

$$L_{1;smooth} = \begin{cases}|x| & \text{if |x|>\alpha;} \\ \frac{1}{|\alpha|}x^2 & \text{if |x| \leq \alpha}\end{cases}$$

$$\alpha$$ is a hyper-parameter here and is usually taken as 1. $$\frac{1}{\alpha}$$ appears near $$x^2$$ term to make it continuous.

Smooth L1-loss combines the advantages of L1-loss (steady gradients for large values of $$x$$) and L2-loss (less oscillations during updates when $$x$$ is small).

Another form of smooth L1-loss is Huber loss. They achieve the same thing. Taken from Wikipedia, Huber loss is

$$L_\delta (a) = \begin{cases} \frac{1}{2}{a^2} & \text{for } |a| \le \delta, \\ \delta (|a| – \frac{1}{2}\delta), & \text{otherwise.} \end{cases}$$