The Essence of Machine Learning

“Tom Mitchell

A computer program is said to learn from experience E with respect to some class of tasks T and performance measure P, if its performance at tasks in T, as measured by P, improves with experience E.1

Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio & Aaron Courville

Machine learning is essentially a form of applied statistics with increased emphasis on the use of computers to statistically estimate complicated functions and a decreased emphasis on proving confidence intervals around these functions[.]2

Ian Witten, Eibe Frank & Mark Hall

[W]e are interested in improvements in performance, or at least he potential for performance, in new situations.

Things learn when they change their behavior in a way that makes them perform better in the future.

Learning implies thinking and purpose. Something that learns has to do so intentionally.

Experience shows that in many applications of machine learning to data mining, the explicit knowledge structures that are acquired, the structural descriptions, are at least as important as the ability to perform well on new examples. People frequently use data mining to gain knowledge, not just predictions.3

Christopher Bishop

The result of running the machine learning algorithm can be expressed as a function y(x) which takes a new digit image x as input and that generates an output vector y, encoded in the same way as the target vectors. The precise form of the function y(x) is determined during the training phase, also known as the learning phase, on the basis of the training data. Once the model is trained it can then determine the identity of new digit images, which are said to comprise a test set. The ability to categorize correctly new examples that differ from those used for training is known as generalization. In practical applications, the variability of the input vectors will be such that the training data can comprise only a tiny fraction of all possible input vectors, and so generalization is a central goal in pattern recognition.4″

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