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Introduction to Machine Learning with Python by Sarah Guido, Andreas C. Müller

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Chapter 3. Unsupervised Learning and Preprocessing

The second family of machine learning algorithms that we will discuss is unsupervised learning algorithms. Unsupervised learning subsumes all kinds of machine learning where there is no known output, no teacher to instruct the learning algorithm. In unsupervised learning, the learning algorithm is just shown the input data and asked to extract knowledge from this data.

Types of Unsupervised Learning

We will look into two kinds of unsupervised learning in this chapter: transformations of the dataset and clustering.

Unsupervised transformations of a dataset are algorithms that create a new representation of the data which might be easier for humans or other machine learning algorithms to understand compared to the original representation of the data. A common application of unsupervised transformations is dimensionality reduction, which takes a high-dimensional representation of the data, consisting of many features, and finds a new way to represent this data that summarizes the essential characteristics with fewer features. A common application for dimensionality reduction is reduction to two dimensions for visualization purposes.

Another application for unsupervised transformations is finding the parts or components that “make up” the data. An example of this is topic extraction on collections of text documents. Here, the task is to find the unknown topics that are talked about in each document, and to learn what topics appear ...

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