Machine learning (ML), a fundamental concept of AI research since the field’s inception, is the study of computer algorithms that improve automatically through experience.
Unsupervised learning is the ability to find patterns in a stream of input, without requiring a human to label the inputs first. Supervised learning includes both classification and numerical regression, which requires a human to label the input data first. Classification is used to determine what category something belongs in, and occurs after a program sees a number of examples of things from several categories. Regression is the attempt to produce a function that describes the relationship between inputs and outputs and predicts how the outputs should change as the inputs change. Both classifiers and regression learners can be viewed as “function approximators” trying to learn an unknown (possibly implicit) function; for example, a spam classifier can be viewed as learning a function that maps from the text of an email to one of two categories, “spam” or “not spam”. Computational learning theory can assess learners by computational complexity, by sample complexity (how much data is required), or by other notions of optimization. In reinforcement learning the agent is rewarded for good responses and punished for bad ones. The agent uses this sequence of rewards and punishments to form a strategy for operating in its problem space.