What Is Machine Learning? What Are Its Types?

  • Home
  • Blog
  • What Is Machine Learning? What Are Its Types?
What Is Machine Learning? What Are Its Types?

Netflix automatically suggests the best things for you to watch based on your previous viewing habits. Computers consistently beat chess Grandmasters in competitive play. Ever wondered what work goes behind these occurrences? Perhaps you find it intriguing how machines can determine fairly accurate futures from historical data sets.

All of this is made possible thanks to something known as machine learning. You may have heard of it before or perhaps seen its uses or benefits on the news. All the top technology firms in the world are currently researching or using it in one form or another.

Even small to medium businesses are taking advantage of this technology to improve their products and services or grow their business, but what exactly is it?

Let’s discuss what machine learning is, its key types, and some of the problems it can solve to give you a better understanding of this incredible, game-changing AI.

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is a branch and application of artificial intelligence (AI). They consist of algorithms that give systems and computer programs the ability to learn and automatically improve from past experiences without explicit programming.

In simple words, it removes the need for human input for machines to learn from “experience” and make decisions accordingly. With machine learning, systems and computer programs can develop independently of humans by accessing data and learning for themselves.

The “learning” process begins by observing large data sets, identifying patterns, deriving meaning from them, and using them to make decisions.

The idea is to let the machine learning system or program improve its decision-making ability through experience gained from automatic learning without any human assistance or intervention.

There are many different methods for machine learning, and they can be categorized as types of machine learning. They have one thing in common: they all learn from data, gain “experience,” and make decisions accordingly to adjust their actions.

Types of Machine Learning

Most machine learning algorithms are mainly categorized as supervised or unsupervised, but two other key approaches to machine learning are semi-supervised and reinforced machine learning algorithms.

Let’s discuss these various types of machine learning algorithms and some of the problems they can solve.

Supervised Machine Learning

Machine learning algorithms in this category can apply what has been learned previously to new data. This is done by using labeled examples to predict future events. Algorithms analyze known training datasets and produce an inferred function to make predictions about the output values.

The supervised model can compare its output with the correct, intended output and find mistakes to adjust the model accordingly.

In simple words, a set of input variables and an output variable are given to the algorithm. It can then identify the mapping function or relationship between the two. The model is monitored or “supervised” because we already know the output.

The system is corrected each time to optimize its output results. The machine learning algorithm is trained over the data set and modified until it achieves an acceptable level of performance. Supervised machine learning problems include:

  • Classification Problems: Various labeled examples can train the algorithm to identify things within a particular category. For example, algorithms can identify apples or oranges, sedan or SUV, beer or wine, infection or no infection.
  • Regression Problems: The algorithm is trained using historical data and used for predictive analysis to predict future values like the future price of a product or stock.

Unsupervised Machine Learning

On the other hand, unsupervised machine learning algorithms are useful when the training data is not labeled, categorized, or classified. Instead, algorithms infer a function to express a buried pattern or structure within the unlabeled information or data.

In this model, the system does not learn the correct output; instead, it explores the data set to deduce hidden patterns and structures. The goal is to decipher the underlying distribution in the data to gain insightful knowledge about the data set.

Unsupervised machine learning algorithms essentially learn on their own and discover some impressive structures in the data that would normally be difficult for humans to find. This model helps with things like:

  • Clustering: Whereby the algorithm bundles input variables that have similar characteristics. For example, grouping customers based on their purchase history.
  • Association: Algorithms discover the laws that govern meaningful associations among given data sets. For example, people who like ‘A’ will also like ‘B.’

Semi-Supervised Machine Learning

As you may have guessed, semi-supervised machine learning algorithms use labeled and unlabeled data sets, categorizing them somewhere in the middle of the previously mentioned types. Typically, there is a nominal portion of labeled data, and the rest is unlabeled data.

Usually, similar data is first clustered using an unsupervised algorithm. Unlabeled data is labeled using the small portion labeled data available. Once the labeling is finished for the entire data, supervised machine learning is used to solve problems. This model affords considerably improved learning accuracy for the system.

Reinforced Machine Learning

Reinforcement machine learning algorithms is an approach where the model is trained to make decisions based on errors or rewards it receives for its actions when interacting with its environment. The system essentially learns to achieve a set goal in uncertain and complex situations.

It does this by trial and error because it is rewarded every time it achieves the goal during learning or training. This approach allows the system to learn and automatically determine the ideal behavior within a particular framework to maximize its performance. A simple reward feedback or reinforcement signal allows the system to learn which action is ideal.


Machine learning is an excellent branch of AI that enables intelligent analysis of massive quantities of data. Generally, it can deliver faster, more accurate results to identify patterns, opportunities, or risks. However, it may take some time and resources to learn, train, and deliver correctly.

Today, scientists, businesses, and the general public are using machine learning in incredible ways. It is no longer a far-off futuristic technology but one that is openly available. It can do amazing things for your business like predictive analysis, risk assessment, targeted marketing, and much more.

If you want to learn more about machine learning and its types or about how you can use it to your business’s advantage, please visit our website today.