Machine Learning: Problems and Tasks

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1102 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2019

Words: 1102|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2019

Machine learning is a subfield of computer science that evolved from the study of pattern recognition and computational learning theory in artificial intelligence. Machine learning explores the construction and study of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data. Such algorithms operate by building a model from example inputs in order to make data-driven predictions or decisions: 2 rather than following strictly static program instructions.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Machine learning is closely related to and often overlaps with computational statistics; a discipline that also specializes in prediction-making. It has strong ties to mathematical optimization, which deliver methods, theory and application domains to the field. Machine learning is employed in a range of computing tasks where designing and programming explicit algorithms is infeasible.

Example applications include spam filtering, optical character recognition (OCR), search engines and computer vision. Machine learning is sometimes conflated with data mining, although that focuses more on exploratory data analysis. Machine learning and pattern recognition “can be viewed as two facets of the same field.”

When employed in industrial contexts, machine learning methods may be referred to as predictive analytics or predictive modelling. In 1959, Arthur Samuel defined machine learning as a “Field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed”. Tom M. Mitchell provided a widely quoted, more formal definition: “A computer program is said to learn from experience E with respect to some class of tasks Tand performance measure P, if its performance at tasks in T, as measured by P, improves with experience E”.

This definition is notable for its defining machine learning in fundamentally operational rather than cognitive terms, thus following Alan Turing's proposal in his paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" that the question “Can machines think?" be replaced with the question “Can machines do what we (as thinking entities) can do?"

Types of Problems and Tasks

Machine learning tasks are typically classified into three broad categories, depending on the nature of the learning “signal” or “feedback” available to a learning system. These are:

  • Supervised learning: The computer is presented with example inputs and their desired outputs, given by a “teacher”, and the goal is to learn a general rule that maps inputs to outputs.
  • Unsupervised learning: No labels are given to the learning algorithm, leaving it on its own to find structure in its input. Unsupervised learning can be a goal in itself (discovering hidden patterns in data) or a means towards an end.
  • Reinforcement learning: A computer program interacts with a dynamic environment in which it must perform a certain goal (such as driving a vehicle), without a teacher explicitly telling it whether it has come close to its goal or not.

Another example is learning to play a game by playing against an opponent. Between supervised and unsupervised learning is semi supervised learning, where the teacher gives an incomplete training signal: a training set with some (often many) of the target outputs missing. Transduction is a special case of this principle where the entire set of problem instances is known at learning time, except that part of the targets are missing. Among other categories of machine learning problems, learning to learn learns its own inductive bias based on previous experience. Developmental learning, elaborated for robot learning, generates its own sequences (also called curriculum) of learning situations to cumulatively acquire repertoires of novel skills through autonomous.

A support vector machine is a classifier that divides its input space into two regions, separated by a linear boundary. Here, it has learned to distinguish black and white circles. Self-exploration and social interaction with human teachers, and using guidance mechanisms such as active learning, maturation, motor synergies, and imitation. Another categorization of machine learning tasks arises when one considers the desired output of a machine learned system.

  • In classification, inputs are divided into two or more classes, and the learner must produce a model that assigns unseen inputs to one (or multi-label classification)or more of these classes. This is typically tackled in a supervised way. Spam filtering is an example of classification, where the inputs are email(or other) messages and the classes are “spam” and “not spam”.
  • In regression, also a supervised problem, the outputs are continuous rather than discrete.
  • In clustering, a set of inputs is to be divided into groups. Unlike in classification, the groups are not known beforehand, making this typically an unsupervised task.
  • Density estimation finds the distribution of inputs in some space.
  • Dimensionality reduction simplifies inputs by mapping them into a lower-dimensional space. Topic modeling is a related problem, where a program is given a list of human language documents and is tasked to find out which documents cover similar topics.

History and Relationships to Other Fields

As a scientific endeavour, machine learning grew out of the quest for artificial intelligence. Already in the early days of AI as an academic discipline, some researchers were interested in having machines learn from data. They attempted to approach the problem with various symbolic methods, as well as what were then termed "neural networks"; these were mostly perceptrons and other models that were later found to be reinventions of the generalized linear models of statistics. Probabilistic reasoning was also employed, especially in automated medical diagnosis.

However, an increasing emphasis on the logical, knowledge-based approach caused a rift between AI and machine learning. Probabilistic systems were plagued by theoretical and practical problems of data acquisition and representation. By 1980, expert systems had come to dominate AI, and statistics was out of favor. Work on symbolic/knowledge-based learning did continue within AI, leading to inductive logic programming, but the more statistical line of research was now outside the field of AI proper, in pattern recognition and information retrieval.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.

Neural networks research had been abandoned by AI and computer science around the same time. This line, too, was continued outside the AI/CS field, as "connectionism", by researchers from other disciplines including Hopfield, Rumelhart and Hinton. Their main success came in the mid-1980s with the reinvention of back propagation. Machine learning, reorganized as a separate field, started to flourish in the 1990s. The field changed its goal from achieving artificial intelligence to tackling solvable problems of a practical nature. It shifted focus away from the symbolic approaches it had inherited from AI, and toward methods and models borrowed from statistics and probability theory. It also benefited from the increasing availability of digitized information, and the possibility to distribute that via the internet. Machine learning and data mining often employ the same methods and overlap significantly. They can be roughly distinguished as follows:

  • Machine learning focuses on prediction, based on known properties learned from the training data.
  • Data mining focuses on the discovery of (previously)unknown properties in the data. This is the analysis step of Knowledge Discovery in Databases.
Image of Dr. Oliver Johnson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Machine learning: problems and tasks. (2019, February 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“Machine learning: problems and tasks.” GradesFixer, 11 Feb. 2019,
Machine learning: problems and tasks. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 Jun. 2024].
Machine learning: problems and tasks [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Feb 11 [cited 2024 Jun 12]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now