What is Machine Learning (ML): AI Explained




A computer processing data with symbolic representations of algorithms and neural networks

Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, is a field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. This revolutionary technology has been making waves in various sectors, from healthcare to finance, and continues to be a hot topic in the tech world. This glossary entry aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of machine learning, its types, applications, and its role in artificial intelligence.

Machine learning is a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. It is a branch of artificial intelligence based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention. Because of new computing technologies, machine learning today is not like machine learning of the past. It was born from pattern recognition and the theory that computers can learn without being programmed to perform specific tasks; researchers interested in artificial intelligence wanted to see if computers could learn from data.

Understanding Machine Learning

At a very high level, machine learning is the process of teaching a computer system how to make accurate predictions when fed data. Those predictions could be answering whether a piece of fruit in a photo is a banana or an apple, spotting people crossing the road in front of a self-driving car, whether the use of the word book in a sentence relates to reading or a hotel reservation, whether an email is spam, or recognizing speech accurately enough to generate captions for a YouTube video.

The process starts with feeding good quality data and then training our machines(computers) by building machine learning models using the data and different algorithms. The choice of algorithms depends on what type of data do we have and what kind of task we are trying to automate.

Types of Machine Learning

There are three main types of machine learning: supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning. Supervised learning is where you have input variables (x) and an output variable (Y) and you use an algorithm to learn the mapping function from the input to the output. The goal is to approximate the mapping function so well that when you have new input data (x) you can predict the output variables (Y) for that data.

Unsupervised learning is where you only have input data (X) and no corresponding output variables. The goal for unsupervised learning is to model the underlying structure or distribution in the data in order to learn more about the data. These are called unsupervised learning because unlike supervised learning above there is no correct answers and there is no teacher. Algorithms are left to their own devises to discover and present the interesting structure in the data.

Machine Learning Algorithms

Machine learning algorithms are often categorized as supervised or unsupervised. However, they can also be divided into three broad categories based on their approach: Supervised learning, Unsupervised learning, Semi-supervised learning, and Reinforcement learning. Each of these types has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of which one to use depends on the kind of problem you’re trying to solve.

Some popular machine learning algorithms include linear regression, logistic regression, decision tree, SVM(Support vector machines), Naive Bayes, kNN(K nearest neighbors), K-Means, Random Forest, Dimensionality Reduction Algorithms, Gradient Boost & Adaboost, etc. Each of these algorithms has a specific purpose and excels in certain kinds of tasks.

Applications of Machine Learning

Machine learning applications are all around us. From voice assistants like Siri and Alexa learning our preferences and improving their speech recognition, to recommendation systems on Netflix and Amazon that suggest what we might like based on our past behavior. Machine learning algorithms are also used for detecting spam, recognizing handwriting, scoring credit, and predicting stock prices.

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Machine learning also plays a crucial role in self-driving cars. These vehicles are packed with sensors that collect tons of data, which machine learning algorithms use to make decisions like when to speed up, when to slow down, when to overtake, when to take a turn – and even when to beep at a slow driver in front.

Machine Learning in Healthcare

Machine learning is a rapidly growing trend in the healthcare industry thanks to the advent of wearable devices and sensors that can use data to assess a patient’s health in real time. The technology can also help medical experts analyze data to identify trends or red flags that may lead to improved diagnoses and treatment.

Machine learning tools can also make administrative tasks more efficient. For instance, machine learning is being used to reduce the time it takes for administrative processes such as patient scheduling and insurance claims processing. This can lead to cost savings and improved patient satisfaction.

Machine Learning in Finance

The financial industry is also benefiting from machine learning. From predicting and detecting fraud to improving investment strategies, machine learning algorithms are being used to make better financial decisions. Algorithms can analyze millions of data points in seconds to find anomalies that might indicate fraudulent activity, or to analyze market conditions and make investment recommendations.

Machine learning can also help companies in the finance sector offer more personalized services to their customers. For instance, machine learning algorithms can analyze a customer’s financial history and behavior to offer personalized financial advice and product recommendations.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning is a core part of artificial intelligence, and it’s the reason why AI has become so revolutionary in today’s tech world. While AI involves machines that can perform tasks that are characteristic of human intelligence, machine learning involves creating algorithms for machines to learn from data inputs and use that learning to perform tasks without being specifically programmed to do so.

AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably, especially in the realm of big data. But these aren’t the same thing. AI involves machines that can perform tasks that are characteristic of human intelligence. While this definition is somewhat subjective, examples include problem-solving, recognizing emotions, and even diagnosing diseases. Machine learning is a subset of AI and focuses on the ability of machines to receive a set of data and learn for themselves, changing algorithms as they learn more about the information they are processing.

Deep Learning

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning where artificial neural networks, algorithms inspired by the human brain, learn from large amounts of data. While a neural network with a single layer can still make approximate predictions, additional hidden layers can help optimize the results.

Just as we use our brains to identify patterns and classify various types of information, deep learning algorithms can be taught to accomplish the same tasks for machines. However, while the human brain can quickly and easily process and identify these patterns or classifications, a machine requires a lot more data and processing power to perform the same task.

Neural Networks

Neural networks are a set of algorithms, modeled loosely after the human brain, that are designed to recognize patterns. They interpret sensory data through a kind of machine perception, labeling or clustering raw input. The patterns they recognize are numerical, contained in vectors, into which all real-world data, be it images, sound, text or time series, must be translated.

Neural networks help us cluster and classify. You can think of them as a clustering and classification layer on top of the data you store and manage. They help to group unlabeled data according to similarities among the example inputs, and they classify data when they have a labeled dataset to train on. (Neural networks can also extract features that are fed to other algorithms for clustering and classification; so you can think of deep neural networks as components of larger machine-learning applications involving algorithms for reinforcement learning, classification and regression.)


Machine learning is an exciting field that’s making it possible for machines to learn from experience, adapt to new inputs, and perform human-like tasks. As we continue to move towards a more digital and connected world, the demand for machine learning skills is only set to increase. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone interested in learning more about this fascinating field, understanding machine learning is a valuable skill in today’s technological landscape.

As we’ve seen, machine learning plays a crucial role in many important technological applications, from voice recognition to self-driving cars. By understanding the basics of machine learning, you can better understand the world around you, and you can also take part in the exciting opportunities that this field has to offer. Whether you’re interested in building your own machine learning models or simply want to have a better understanding of this important technological trend, there’s never been a better time to learn about machine learning.

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