Machine Learning Overview

Systems that Improve Their Performance

If an expert system---brilliantly designed, engineered and implemented---cannot learn not to repeat its mistakes, it is not as intelligent as a worm or a sea anemone or a kitten. 
- Oliver G. Selfridge, from The Gardens of Learning

"Find a bug in a program, and fix it, and the program will work today. Show the program how to find and fix a bug, and the program will work forever."
- Oliver G. Selfridge, in AI's Greatest Trends and Controversies

Definition of the Area

"The field of Machine Learning seeks to answer the question “How can we build computer systems that automatically improve with experience, and what are the fundamental laws that govern all learning processes?” This question covers a broad range of learning tasks, such as how to design autonomous mobile robots that learn to navigate from their own experience, how to data mine historical medical records to learn which future patients will respond best to which treatments, and how to build search engines that automatically customize to their user’s interests. To be more precise, we say that a machine learns with respect to a particular task T, performance metric P, and type of experience E, if the system reliably improves its performance P at task T, following experience E. Depending on how we specify T, P, and E, the learning task might also be called by names such as data mining, autonomous discovery, database updating, programming by example, etc."

From The Discipline of Machine Learning by Tom Mitchell.