What is Machine Learning?

What is Machine Learning? It is a common question that I get asked a lot. I wanted to find a simple, intuitive definition. After doing a few Google searches, I settled on this one from Arthur Samuel.

from Arthur Samuel (in 1959)

“[Machine Learning is the] field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.”

It is a field of study. I like that.  I picked this after Googling and finding over 100 descriptions. Here is a shorter curated list of results from this Google Search.  From this list, you may find that Machine Learning is:

  • A technique
  • A field of study
  • An application
  • A Method
  • A type of AI
  • A sub-field of AI
  • A general term
  • A cure-all for all human problems (just kidding)
  • A data based application generator
  • A statistical method of learning from data
  • A mapping function of inputs to outputs

So, what do you think is Machine Learning?