What is Machine Learning?

No list of computer science-y buzzwords is complete without machine learning. So what is it?

"Machine learning explores the study and construction of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data" - Wikipedia

Basically, here's what happened. Humans like to observe the universe and make guesses about what will happen next. Unfortunately, we can only take in so much information at once. This is where computers (machines) come in! They can handle large data sets, and perform computations much more quickly than we can. So, we observe what happens in the world, and try to describe it in a way that machines will understand ("study and construction of algorithms"). Once they have learned what the question is, we can feed them tons of data and they will start to make predictions.

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