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The 10 Algorithms Machine Learning Engineers Need to Know

This article was written by James Le.

It is no doubt that the sub-field of machine learning / artificial intelligence has increasingly gained more popularity in the past couple of years. As Big Data is the hottest trend in the tech industry at the moment, machine learning is incredibly powerful to make predictions or calculated suggestions based on large amounts of data. Some of the most common examples of machine learning are Netflix’s algorithms to make movie suggestions based on movies you have watched in the past or Amazon’s algorithms that recommend books based on books you have bought before.

So if you want to learn more about machine learning, how do you start? For me, my first introduction is when I took an Artificial Intelligence class when I was studying abroad in Copenhagen. My lecturer is a full-time Applied Math and CS professor at the Technical University of Denmark, in which his research areas are logic and artificial, focusing primarily on the use of logic to model human-like planning, reasoning and problem solving. The class was a mix of discussion of theory/core concepts and hands-on problem solving. The textbook that we used is one of the AI classics: Peter Norvig’s Artificial Intelligence — A Modern Approach, in which we covered major topics including intelligent agents, problem-solving by searching, adversarial search, probability theory, multi-agent systems, social AI, philosophy/ethics/future of AI. At the end of the class, in a team of 3, we implemented simple search-based agents solving transportation tasks in a virtual environment as a programming project.

Machine learning algorithms can be divided into 3 broad categories — supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and reinforcement learning.Supervised learning is useful in cases where a property (label) is available for a certain dataset (training set), but is missing and needs to be predicted for other instances. Unsupervised learning is useful in cases where the challenge is to discover implicit relationships in a given unlabeled dataset (items are not pre-assigned). Reinforcement learning falls between these 2 extremes — there is some form of feedback available for each predictive step or action, but no precise label or error message. Since this is an intro class, I didn’t learn about reinforcement learning, but I hope that 10 algorithms on supervised and unsupervised learning will be enough to keep you interested.

In the supervised learning category you will find : 

  1. Decision Trees
  2. Naïve Bayes Classification
  3. Ordinary Least Squares Regression
  4. Logistic Regression
  5. Support Vector Machines
  6. Ensemble Methods

In the unsupervised learning you will find:

  1. Clustering Algorithms
  2. Principal Component Analysis
  3. Singular Value Decomposition
  4. Independent Component Analysis

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