Machine Learning


Machine learning is the scientific study of algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use in order to perform a specific task effectively without using explicit instructions.

It is seen as a subset of artificial intelligence. Machine learning algorithms build a mathematical model based on sample data, known as "training data", in order to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to perform the task. Machine learning algorithms are used in a wide variety of applications, such as email filtering, and computer vision, where it is infeasible to develop an algorithm of specific instructions for performing the task. Machine learning is closely related to computational statistics, which focuses on making predictions using computers. The study of mathematical optimization delivers methods, theory and application domains to the field of machine learning. Data mining is a field of study within machine learning, and focuses on exploratory data analysis through unsupervised learning.In its application across business problems, machine learning is also referred to as predictive analytics.

Supervised learning

Supervised learning algorithms build a mathematical model of a set of data that contains both the inputs and the desired outputs. The data is known as training data, and consists of a set of training examples. Each training example has one or more inputs and a desired output, also known as a supervisory signal. In the mathematical model, each training example is represented by an array or vector, sometimes called a feature vector, and the training data is represented by a matrix. Through iterative optimization of an objective function, supervised learning algorithms learn a function that can be used to predict the output associated with new inputs. An optimal function will allow the algorithm to correctly determine the output for inputs that were not a part of the training data. An algorithm that improves the accuracy of its outputs or predictions over time is said to have learned to perform that task.

Supervised learning algorithms include classification and regression. Classification algorithms are used when the outputs are restricted to a limited set of values, and regression algorithms are used when the outputs may have any numerical value within a range. Similarity learning is an area of supervised machine learning closely related to regression and classification, but the goal is to learn from examples using a similarity function that measures how similar or related two objects are. It has applications in ranking, recommendation systems, visual identity tracking, face verification, and speaker verification.

In the case of semi-supervised learning algorithms, some of the training examples are missing training labels, but they can nevertheless be used to improve the quality of a model. In weakly supervised learning, the training labels are noisy, limited, or imprecise; however, these labels are often cheaper to obtain, resulting in larger effective training sets.

Unsupervised learning

Unsupervised learning algorithms take a set of data that contains only inputs, and find structure in the data, like grouping or clustering of data points. The algorithms therefore learn from test data that has not been labeled, classified or categorized. Instead of responding to feedback, unsupervised learning algorithms identify commonalities in the data and react based on the presence or absence of such commonalities in each new piece of data. A central application of unsupervised learning is in the field of density estimation in statistics, though unsupervised learning encompasses other domains involving summarizing and explaining data features.

Cluster analysis is the assignment of a set of observations into subsets (called clusters) so that observations within the same cluster are similar according to one or more predesignated criteria, while observations drawn from different clusters are dissimilar. Different clustering techniques make different assumptions on the structure of the data, often defined by some similarity metric and evaluated, for example, by internal compactness, or the similarity between members of the same cluster, and separation, the difference between clusters. Other methods are based on estimated density and graph connectivity.

Reinforcement learning

Reinforcement learning is an area of machine learning concerned with how software agents ought to take actions in an environment so as to maximize some notion of cumulative reward. Due to its generality, the field is studied in many other disciplines, such as game theory, control theory, operations research, information theory, simulation-based optimization, multi-agent systems, swarm intelligence, statistics and genetic algorithms. In machine learning, the environment is typically represented as a Markov Decision Process (MDP). Many reinforcement learning algorithms use dynamic programming techniques. Reinforcement learning algorithms do not assume knowledge of an exact mathematical model of the MDP, and are used when exact models are infeasible.] Reinforcement learning algorithms are used in autonomous vehicles or in learning to play a game against a human opponent.

Models

Performing machine learning involves creating a model, which is trained on some training data and then can process additional data to make predictions. Various types of models have been used and researched for machine learning systems.

Decision Trees

Decision tree learning uses a decision tree as a predictive model to go from observations about an item (represented in the branches) to conclusions about the item's target value (represented in the leaves). It is one of the predictive modeling approaches used in statistics, data mining and machine learning. Tree models where the target variable can take a discrete set of values are called classification trees; in these tree structures, leaves represent class labels and branches represent conjunctions of features that lead to those class labels. Decision trees where the target variable can take continuous values (typically real numbers) are called regression trees. In decision analysis, a decision tree can be used to visually and explicitly represent decisions and decision making. In data mining, a decision tree describes data, but the resulting classification tree can be an input for decision making.

Support vector machines

Support vector machines (SVMs), also known as support vector networks, are a set of related supervised learning methods used for classification and regression. Given a set of training examples, each marked as belonging to one of two categories, an SVM training algorithm builds a model that predicts whether a new example falls into one category or the other. An SVM training algorithm is a non-probabilistic, binary, linear classifier, although methods such as Platt scaling exist to use SVM in a probabilistic classification setting. In addition to performing linear classification, SVMs can efficiently perform a non-linear classification using what is called the kernel trick, implicitly mapping their inputs into high-dimensional feature spaces.

Bayesian networks

A Bayesian network, belief network or directed acyclic graphical model is a probabilistic graphical model that represents a set of random variables and their conditional independence with a directed acyclic graph (DAG). For example, a Bayesian network could represent the probabilistic relationships between diseases and symptoms. Given symptoms, the network can be used to compute the probabilities of the presence of various diseases. Efficient algorithms exist that perform inference and learning. Bayesian networks that model sequences of variables, like speech signals or protein sequences, are called dynamic Bayesian networks. Generalizations of Bayesian networks that can represent and solve decision problems under uncertainty are called influence diagrams.

Bayesian networks

A Bayesian network, belief network or directed acyclic graphical model is a probabilistic graphical model that represents a set of random variables and their conditional independence with a directed acyclic graph (DAG). For example, a Bayesian network could represent the probabilistic relationships between diseases and symptoms. Given symptoms, the network can be used to compute the probabilities of the presence of various diseases. Efficient algorithms exist that perform inference and learning. Bayesian networks that model sequences of variables, like speech signals or protein sequences, are called dynamic Bayesian networks. Generalizations of Bayesian networks that can represent and solve decision problems under uncertainty are called influence diagrams.