Part of the Programming glossary:

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data. 

The process of machine learning is similar to that of data mining. Both systems search through data to look for patterns. However, instead of extracting data for human comprehension -- as is the case in data mining applications -- machine learning uses that data to improve the program's own understanding. Machine learning programs detect patterns in data and adjust program actions accordingly.  For example, Facebook's News Feed changes according to the user's personal interactions with other users. If a user frequently tags a friend in photos, writes on his wall or "likes" his links, the News Feed will show more of that friend's activity in the user's News Feed due to presumed closeness.

See also: fuzzy logic, machine-to-machine, decision support system, neural network, anthropomorphism

 

Read more about machine learning:

The difference between machine learning and statistics in data mining

Fielded applications of data mining and machine learning

This was last updated in January 2011
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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