What is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is the scientific discipline that explores how to predict future events based on documented past events. In order to develop learning machines and software programs, the meaning of learning and what determines success or failure must first be defined.

The Birth of a Technology

The modern world has entered the era of big data. Never before has there been so much raw data available for researchers to study, evaluate and integrate into programs. There are approximately one trillion web pages available through the power of the Internet. Every second, at least one hour of video content is uploaded to YouTube around the world. Global companies like Walmart handle up to a million transactions every hour.

All of these activities produce massive data warehouses that researchers can use to problem solve and undercover new knowledge. Machine-based learning provides researchers with automated methods of data analysis. In other words, it provides a methodology that is used to automatically detect patterns in data, which in turn is used to predict future data patterns. These programs can also perform simple decision making in controlled scenarios.

Sample Approach

When it comes to machine-based learning, some researchers feel that the best way to solve problems is through the tools of probability theory that can be applied to any problem involving uncertainty. There are ambiguous research questions that come in many shapes and forms, which must be answered first.

For example, researchers will ask what constitutes the best prediction of the future based on past data. They must also define what the best model to explain which data sets and what is the order of data measurements. This probabilistic approach to machine-based learning is similar to the field of statistics, but it has a different emphasis and terminology. There are many probabilistic models that are suitable for a wide variety of data types and required tasks. Although these different types of learning models and algorithms use customized techniques, there are standard probabilistic modeling and inference models.

Common Conundrums

There are many common inductive learning problems. The biggest difference between them is the object of prediction.

First, regression refers to the prediction of a real value. This easy when it comes to numerical goals like predicting the value of a stock given its past performance and predicting a student’s final exam score based on their aggregate homework grades. Second, binary classification refers to the prediction of a simple yes or no response. For example, predicting whether students will enjoy a class, or if user will post a positive or negative review of a new product online. Third, multi-class classification refers to assigning an item to a number of designated classes, such as a prediction whether a news story is about sports, politics or entertainment. Fourth, ranking is when a set of objects are put in order of relevance, like ordering a student’s most liked to least liked classes.

When it comes to machine-based learning, there are minor, but reoccurring limitations through data miscalculations and misinterpretations. Regardless, machine learning is revolutionizing everything from website marketing to medical analysis to financial investments. You can learn more about this fascinating topic here.