Quick, what exactly is Machine Learning?

Updated: Mar 19



MACHINE LEARNING . noun . \ mə-ˈshēn \ ˈlər-niŋ


Machine Learning (ML) is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computers to learn without explicit programming.


☆ ☆ ☆ ML is essentially just advanced statistics that computers can perform a gazillion times faster than human beings.


Using ML, a computer is able to improve its own performance by continuously incorporating new data into an existing statistical model.


Instead of giving the computer everything it needs to know to complete a task, ML allows the computer to figure it out for itself, using data to learn as it goes.


Machine Learning Can: Forecast, Memorize, Reproduce and Choose Best Item. Machines cannot: Create something new, get smart really fast, go beyond their task, kill all humans (circled in red).  Venn Diagram with ML in the center, the three circles are: Data, Features, Algorithms. The intersect of ML, Data and Features is Data Science. The intersect of ML, Features and Algorithms is Classical Programming. The intersect of ML, Algorithms and Data is Data Mining.

Of course, Machine Learning is more complex, with many different techniques to access and apply ML.


Here is a great visual that breaks down Classical Machine Learning even further:


And just in case that flow chart requires too much reading (we understand!), here is a visual that quickly differentiates between the three major types of Machine Learning:


Image using robots as representation of the three major types of Machine Learning. Supervised Learning shows a robot holding a blue cube, with a voice bubble from someone off-image saying: "A cube has 6 sides that are Square" and the robot replies "I understand".  Unsupervised Learning shows a robot with 2 blue cubes grouped together and 2 blue cups grouped together. The robot says "These look like groups."  The Reinforcement Learning shows a robot with a blue cub in its hand, and the table in front of it has a cube-shaped hole and a round hole. The robot says "Does this work?" and it's hovering the blue cup in its hand over the round hole.
Image by Ceralytics

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