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Machine Learning

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What it is & why it matters

Machine learning is a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. Using algorithms that iteratively learn from data, machine learning allows computers to find hidden insights without being explicitly programmed where to look.

The iterative aspect of machine learning is important because as models are exposed to new data, they are able to independently adapt. They learn from previous computations to produce reliable, repeatable decisions and results. It’s a science that’s not new – but one that’s gaining fresh momentum.

Because of new computing technologies, machine learning today is not like machine learning of the past. While many machine learning algorithms have been around for a long time, the ability to automatically apply complex mathematical calculations to big data – over and over, faster and faster – is a recent development. Here are a few widely publicized examples of machine learning applications that you may be familiar with:

  • The heavily hyped, self-driving Google car? The essence of machine learning.
  • Online recommendation offers like those from Amazon and Netflix? Machine learning applications for everyday life.
  • Knowing what customers are saying about you on Twitter? Machine learning combined with linguistic rule creation.
  • Fraud detection? One of the more obvious, important uses in our world today.

How is machine learning used today?

Ever wonder how an online retailer provides nearly instantaneous offers for other products that may interest you? Or how lenders can provide near-real-time answers to your loan requests? Many of our day-to-day activities are powered by machine learning algorithms, including:

  • Fraud detection.
  • Web search results.
  • Real-time ads on web pages and mobile devices.
  • Text-based sentiment analysis.
  • Credit scoring and next-best offers.
  • Prediction of equipment failures.
  • New pricing models.
  • Network intrusion detection.
  • Pattern and image recognition.
  • Email spam filtering.
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