Like it or not, our daily lives are filled with technology. Like most people, you likely began your day by checking your phone, or turning on a Spotify playlist to jumpstart your day. After getting up, maybe you checked Google Maps to see if it was going to be a busy commute to work. During your lunch break, you may have seen an advertisement for a suspiciously perfect shirt on social media. After heading home for the day, did you turn on your new, favorite Netflix show to relax?
Sound familiar? These technological habits are common and pervasive in most of our daily lives. However, none of these small technological wonders would be possible without one powerful tool: machine learning.
Machine learning is the process of a computer attempting to learn from past experiences. The general process of machine learning occurs as follows: data is inputted into a machine, which gets passed through an algorithm. If the algorithm returns the correct result, we use that correct result as an example for further learning. If it is wrong, we provide feedback and the machine learns from its mistakes. The more times it does this, the better it gets at solving the problem at hand.
To make understanding this process more simple, we can compare it to studying for a set of problems on a math test. If you solve it correctly, you have likely followed the correct steps to solve the problem. If you get it wrong, your teacher will provide feedback and show you where you went wrong. If you implement this feedback and continue to practice, the number of errors will minimize and you will be more likely to get a good grade. It is important to note that the increase in success does not come from practicing the exact same question repeatedly, but from executing an algorithm (set of steps) that can be applied across many different and difficult problems. While studying can create a math whiz, machine learning can make a computer highly accurate, effective, and quick at solving problems.