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Data, learning, and modelling

There are critical concepts within ML that set the tone for comprehending the domain.

In this blog post by AICorespot, you will learn the nomenclature (standard terminology) that is leveraged when detailing data and datasets.

You will also know about the theories, concepts, and terminology leveraged to detail learning and modelling from data that will furnish a valuable intuition for your journey through the domain of machine learning.


Machine learning strategies learn from instances. It is critical to have a good understanding of input data and the several terminology leveraged when detailing data. In this portion of the blog, you will learn the terminology leveraged in machine learning when referring to data.

When people usually think data, it is normally perceived of excel sheets, in rows and columns. Database tables are another example. This is a conventional structure for information and is what is typical within the domain of machine learning. Other data such as images, videos, and text, so-called unstructured data is not considered at this time.

Instance: A singular row of data is referred to as an instance. It is an observation from the domain.

Feature: A singular column of data is referred to as a feature. It is an aspect of an observation and is referred to as an attribute of a data instance. A few features might be inputs to a model (the predictors) and others might be outputs or the features to be forecasted.

Data type: Features possess a data type. They might be real or integer-valued or might possess a categorical or ordinal value. You can possess strings, dates, times, and more complicated variants, however, usually they are minimized to real or categorical values when operating with conventional machine learning strategies.

Datasets: A grouping of instances is a dataset and when operating with machine learning strategies we usually require a few datasets for differing purposes.

Training dataset: A dataset that we input into our ML algorithm to train our model.

Testing dataset: A dataset that we leverage to validate the precision of our model but is not leveraged in training the model. It might be referred to as the validation dataset.

We might have to gather instances to form our datasets or we might be provided a finite dataset that we must split into sub-datasets.


ML is indeed about automated learning with algorithms.

In this section, we will take up a few high-level concepts about learning.

Induction: Machine learning algorithms learn through a procedure referred to as induction or inductive learning. Induction is a reasoning procedure that makes generalizations (a model) from particular data (training data)

Generalization: Generalization is needed as the model that is prepped by a machine learning algorithm requires to make forecasts or decisions on the basis of particular data examples that were not observed during the course of training.

Over-learning: When a model learns the training data too closely and does not generalize, this is referred to as over-learning. The outcome is weak performance on data other than the training dataset. This is also referred to as over-fitting.

Under-learning: When a model has not learned adequate structure from the database as the learning process was ceased earlier on, this is referred to as under-learning. The outcome is good generalization but weak performance on all data, which includes the training dataset. This is also referred to as under-fitting.

Online-learning: Online learning is when a strategy is developed on pre-prepped data and is then leveraged operationally on unobserved data. The training procedure can be controlled and can be tuned meticulously as the scope of the training data is known. The model is not updated after it has been prepped and performance might reduce if the domain changes.

Supervised learning: This is a learning procedure for generalizing on problems where a forecast is needed. A “teaching procedure” contrasts predictions by the model to know answers and renders corrections in the model.

Unsupervised learning: This is a learning procedure for generalization of the structure in the data where no forecast is needed. Natural structures are detected and exploited for relating examples to one another.

We have covered supervised and unsupervised learning prior in this post on machine learning algorithms. These terms can be good for classification of algorithms through their behaviour.


The artefact developed by a machine learning procedure could be viewed as a program in its own right.

Model selection: We can think of the procedure of configuring and training the model as a model choice process. Every iteration we possess a new model that we could select to leverage or to modify. Even the selection of machine learning algorithm is part of that model selection procedure. Of all the potential models that exist for a specific problem, a provided algorithm and algorithm configuration on the selected training dataset will furnish a finally chosen model.

Inductive bias: Bias is the limits imposed on the chosen model. All models are based which puts forth error in the model, and by definition all models have error (they are generalizations from observations). Biases are put forth by the generalizations made in the model which includes the configuration of the model and the choice to produce the model. A machine learning strategy can develop a model with a reduced or a high bias and strategies can be leveraged to minimize the bias of a highly biased model.

Model variance: Variance is how sensitive the model is to the data on which it received training. A ML strategy can have a high or a low variance when developing a model on a dataset. A strategy to minimize the variance of a model is to execute it multiple times on a dataset with differing initial conditions and take the average precision as the model’s performance.

Bias-Variance Tradeoff: Model choice can be viewed of as the trade-off of the bias and variance. A reduced bias model will possess an increased variance and will require to be trained for a long time or several times to obtain a useable model. A high bias model will possess a reduced variance and will train swiftly, but suffer from poor and restricted performance.


Listed are some resources if you would wish to dig deeper.

  • Tom Mitchell, the need for biases in learning generalizations, 1980.
  • Understanding the bias-variance tradeoff

This blog post by AICoreSpot furnished a useful glossary of terminology that you can look back at any time for a clear definition.

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