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Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it learn for themselves.

 

The process of learning begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience, or instruction, in order to look for patterns in data and make better decisions in the future based on the examples that we provide. The primary aim is to allow the computers learn automatically without human intervention or assistance and adjust actions accordingly.

 

Machine learning algorithms are often categorized as supervised or unsupervised.

 

Supervised learning algorithms are trained using labelled examples, such as an input where the desired output is known. For example, a piece of equipment could have data points labelled either “F” (failed) or “R” (runs). The learning algorithm receives a set of inputs along with the corresponding correct outputs, and the algorithm learns by comparing its actual output with correct outputs to find errors. It then modifies the model accordingly. Through methods like classification, regression, prediction and gradient boosting, supervised learning uses patterns to predict the values of the label on additional unlabelled data. Supervised learning is commonly used in applications where historical data predicts likely future events. For example, it can anticipate when credit card transactions are likely to be fraudulent or which insurance customer is likely to file a claim.

 

Unsupervised learning is used against data that has no historical labels. The system is not told the "right answer." The algorithm must figure out what is being shown. The goal is to explore the data and find some structure within. Unsupervised learning works well on transactional data. For example, it can identify segments of customers with similar attributes who can then be treated similarly in marketing campaigns. Or it can find the main attributes that separate customer segments from each other. Popular techniques include self-organizing maps, nearest-neighbour mapping, k-means clustering and singular value decomposition. These algorithms are also used to segment text topics, recommend items and identify data outliers.

 

Semi-supervised learning is used for the same applications as supervised learning. But it uses both labelled and unlabelled data for training – typically a small amount of labelled data with a large amount of unlabelled data (because unlabelled data is less expensive and takes less effort to acquire). This type of learning can be used with methods such as classification, regression and prediction. Semi-supervised learning is useful when the cost associated with labelling is too high to allow for a fully labelled training process. Early examples of this include identifying a person's face on a web cam.

 

Reinforcement learning is often used for robotics, gaming and navigation. With reinforcement learning, the algorithm discovers through trial and error which actions yield the greatest rewards. This type of learning has three primary components: the agent (the learner or decision maker), the environment (everything the agent interacts with) and actions (what the agent can do). The objective is for the agent to choose actions that maximize the expected reward over a given amount of time. The agent will reach the goal much faster by following a good policy. So the goal in reinforcement learning is to learn the best policy.

 

Machine learning enables analysis of massive quantities of data. While it generally delivers faster, more accurate results in order to identify profitable opportunities or dangerous risks, it may also require additional time and resources to train it properly. Combining machine learning with AI and cognitive technologies can make it even more effective in processing large volumes of information.

Deep learning is a machine learning technique that teaches computers to do what comes naturally to humans: learn by example. Deep learning is a key technology behind driverless cars, enabling them to recognize a stop sign, or to distinguish a pedestrian from a lamppost. It is the key to voice control in consumer devices like phones, tablets, TVs, and hands-free speakers. Deep learning is getting lots of attention lately and for good reason. It’s achieving results that were not possible before.

In deep learning, a computer model learns to perform classification tasks directly from images, text, or sound. Deep learning models can achieve state-of-the-art accuracy, sometimes exceeding human-level performance. Models are trained by using a large set of labelled data and neural network architectures that contain many layers.

Deep learning achieves recognition accuracy at higher levels than ever before. This helps consumer electronics meet user expectations, and it is crucial for safety-critical applications like driverless cars. Recent advances in deep learning have improved to the point where deep learning outperforms humans in some tasks like classifying objects in images.

While deep learning was first theorized in the 1980s, there are two main reasons it has only recently become useful:

  • Deep learning requires large amounts of labelled data. For example, driverless car development requires millions of images and thousands of hours of video.

  • Deep learning requires substantial computing power. High-performance GPUs have a parallel architecture that is efficient for deep learning. When combined with clusters or cloud computing, this enables development teams to reduce training time for a deep learning network from weeks to hours.

Deep learning is a specialized form of machine learning. A machine learning workflow starts with relevant features being manually extracted from images. The features are then used to create a model that categorizes the objects in the image. With a deep learning workflow, relevant features are automatically extracted from images. In addition, deep learning performs “end-to-end learning” – where a network is given raw data and a task to perform, such as classification, and it learns how to do this automatically.

Another key difference is deep learning algorithms scale with data, whereas shallow learning converges. Shallow learning refers to machine learning methods that plateau at a certain level of performance when you add more examples and training data to the network.

A key advantage of deep learning networks is that they often continue to improve as the size of your data increases. In machine learning, you manually choose features and a classifier to sort images. With deep learning, feature extraction and modelling steps are automatic.

Machine learning offers a variety of techniques and models you can choose based on your application, the size of data you're processing, and the type of problem you want to solve. A successful deep learning application requires a very large amount of data (thousands of images) to train the model, as well as GPUs, or graphics processing units, to rapidly process your data.

When choosing between machine learning and deep learning, consider whether you have a high-performance GPU and lots of labelled data. If you don’t have either of those things, it may make more sense to use machine learning instead of deep learning. Deep learning is generally more complex, so you’ll need at least a few thousand images to get reliable results. Having a high-performance GPU means the model will take less time to analyse all those images.

After this brief introduction to machine learning and deep learning, we will introduce what neural networks are in the next chapter.