Machine learning (ML) is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so. Machine learning algorithms use historical data as input to predict new output values.
Recommendation engines are a common use case for machine learning. Other popular uses include fraud detection, spam filtering, malware threat detection, business process automation (BPA) and predictive maintenance.
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Types of machine learning:
Classical machine learning is often categorized by how an algorithm learns to become more accurate in its predictions. There are four basic approaches: supervised learning, unsupervised learning, semi-supervised learning and reinforcement learning. The type of algorithm a data scientist chooses to use depends on what type of data they want to predict.
Supervised learning: In this type of machine learning, data scientists supply algorithms with labeled training data and define the variables they want the algorithm to assess for correlations. Both the input and the output of the algorithm is specified.
Unsupervised learning: This type of machine learning involves algorithms that train on unlabeled data. The algorithm scans through data sets looking for any meaningful connection. Both the data algorithms train on and the predictions or recommendations they output are predetermined.
Semi-supervised learning: This approach to machine learning involves a mix of the two preceding types. Data scientists may feed an algorithm mostly labeled training data, but the model is free to explore the data on its own and develop its own understanding of the data set.
Reinforcement learning: Reinforcement learning is typically used to teach a machine to complete a multi-step process for which there are clearly defined rules. Data scientists program an algorithm to complete a task and give it positive or negative cues as it works out how to complete a task. But for the most part, the algorithm decides on its own what steps to take along the way.