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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Mathematics of Machine Learning | Dataconomy

Photo: Wale Akinfaderin
"In the last few months, I have had several people contact me about their enthusiasm for venturing into the world of data science and using Machine Learning (ML) techniques to probe statistical regularities and build impeccable data-driven products." argues Wale Akinfaderin, Graduate Research Assistant at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, and PhD candidate in Physics at Florida State University.

The Mathematics of Machine Learning

However, I’ve observed that some actually lack the necessary mathematical intuition and framework to get useful results. This is the main reason I decided to write this blog post. Recently, there has been an upsurge in the availability of many easy-to-use machine and deep learning packages such as scikit-learn, Weka, Tensorflow etc. Machine Learning theory is a field that intersects statistical, probabilistic, computer science and algorithmic aspects arising from learning iteratively from data and finding hidden insights which can be used to build intelligent applications. Despite the immense possibilities of Machine and Deep Learning, a thorough mathematical understanding of many of these techniques is necessary for a good grasp of the inner workings of the algorithms and getting good results.

Why Worry About The Maths? 
There are many reasons why the mathematics of Machine Learning is important and I’ll highlight some of them below:

1. Selecting the right algorithm which includes giving considerations to accuracy, training time, model complexity, number of parameters and number of features.
2. Choosing parameter settings and validation strategies.
3. Identifying underfitting and overfitting by understanding the Bias-Variance tradeoff.
4. Estimating the right confidence interval and uncertainty.

What Level of Maths Do You Need? 
The main question when trying to understand an interdisciplinary field such as Machine Learning is the amount of maths necessary and the level of maths needed to understand these techniques. The answer to this question is multidimensional and depends on the level and interest of the individual. Research in mathematical formulations and theoretical advancement of Machine Learning is ongoing and some researchers are working on more advance techniques. I’ll state what I believe to be the minimum level of mathematics needed to be a Machine Learning Scientist/Engineer and the importance of each mathematical concept.
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Source: Dataconomy


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