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What is Machine Learning?


We humans are intelligent because we learn from our experiences – good or bad, right or wrong. The experiences teach us how to keep improving our behavior based on past experiences. Scientists have always tried to find if a computer can also be made to learn. This is the field of machine learning, which tries to make a computer, a machine, or any other system learn from its experiences and improve with time.

What is Machine Experience

Do you find the notion of a machine “experiencing” something weird? Let me explain. A machine receives some input, processes it based on pre-loaded programs, and provides some output – that is an experience. If the input changes for the same set of processes, the experience would be a new one. If the processes change, that would of course be a new experience.

Teaching a Machine like a Baby

teaching a machine

When a baby starts walking, it overcomes obstacles like chairs, tables, or beds in the room by walking around them. Soon, it learns to climb. Now when it reaches a bed while walking, it will climb and go to the other side rather than walking around it. Why?

The child has learnt that climbing rather than walking around will save time and effort.

Can a machine gain and apply the same learning if it has been programmed exhaustively for walking as well as climbing? That is what study of machine learning tries to figure out.

Learning from Experience

Any machine that is loaded with many programs can store its experience with each input. Once it has a large database of such experiences, it can dive into that data to recognize patterns and perform processes for new data without being pre-programmed for it.

Machine learning focuses on developing programs that can enable this process of learning or storing experiences so that machines can handle situations where they are exposed to new data.

Process of Learning

To understand machine learning, scientists are studying complex human learning examples like diagnosing a medical condition based on symptoms. They also study how computers aid researchers in producing new hypotheses by combining established or pre-programmed hypotheses with new experimental data. Observing the behavior of a mobile robot, as it negotiates its surroundings, is another important tool in identifying machine learning process. Machine learning researchers are developing theories on learning processes to develop algorithms that can help machines, and even humans, in successful learning and behavior improvement.