The Discipline of Machine Learning

Over the past 50 years the study of Machine Learning has grown from the efforts of a handful of computer engineers exploring whether computers could learn to play games, and a field of Statistics that largely ignored computational considerations, to a broad discipline that has produced fundamental statistical-computational theories of learning processes, has designed learning algorithms that are routinely used in commercial systems for speech recognition, computer vision, and a variety of other tasks, and has spun off an industry in data mining to discover hidden regularities in the growing volumes of online data. This document provides a brief and personal view of the discipline that has emerged as Machine Learning, the fundamental questions it addresses, its relationship to other sciences and society, and where it might be headed.