Supervised learning is a type of machine learning that involves the use of labeled datasets to train algorithms that to classify data or predict outcomes accurately. As the name suggests, the process of an algorithm learning from the training dataset can be thought of as a teacher supervising the learning process. We know the correct answers, the algorithm iteratively makes predictions on the training data and is corrected by the teacher. Learning stops when the algorithm achieves an acceptable level of performance.
Supervised learning is widely used in applications where historical data predicts likely future events. It can anticipate when credit card transactions are likely to be fraudulent, what days a restaurant will be particularly busy, or the price of a stock in the next ten days. By using historical data, supervised learning can be used to generate potentially valuable insights for businesses.
Types of Supervised Learning
Supervised learning can be divided into two categories: classification and regression. The difference between them lies in the type of output they produce. While classification predicts a label, regression predicts a quantity.
Classification involves predicting the class or category of data points. For example, you might want to classify emails as either spam or not spam. In this case, the classes are binary: spam or not spam. However, classification can also involve multiple classes. For example, classifying types of wine by the grape variety.
Binary classification is a type of classification where the model learns from the input data to predict one of two possible outcomes. For example, predicting whether an email is spam or not is a binary classification problem.
Binary classification is often used in medical testing, where the goal is to determine whether a patient has a certain disease (positive) or not (negative). Other examples include credit scoring, where the goal is to predict whether a customer will default (positive) or not (negative).
Multiclass classification is a type of classification where the model learns from the input data to predict one of three or more possible outcomes. For example, predicting the type of wine by the grape variety is a multiclass classification problem.
Multiclass classification is often used in image recognition, where the goal is to classify an image into one of several possible categories. Other examples include speech recognition, where the goal is to recognize the spoken language from a set of several possible languages.
Regression involves predicting a continuous output variable. For example, you might want to predict the price of a house based on its size, location, and other factors. In this case, the output (price) is a continuous variable.
Regression is often used in forecasting, where the goal is to predict a future value based on past data. Other examples include predicting the age of a person based on their height, weight, and other factors, or predicting the speed of a car based on the slope of the road and the weight of the car.
Linear regression is a type of regression where the relationship between the input variables and the output variable is assumed to be linear. The goal of linear regression is to find the line that best fits the data points.
Linear regression is often used in economics, where it is used to model the relationship between two or more variables. For example, it can be used to model the relationship between the GDP of a country and the unemployment rate in that country.
Non-linear regression is a type of regression where the relationship between the input variables and the output variable is assumed to be non-linear. The goal of non-linear regression is to find the curve that best fits the data points.
Non-linear regression is often used in biology, where it is used to model the growth of populations. For example, it can be used to model the growth of a population of bacteria in a petri dish.
Supervised Learning Algorithms
There are several algorithms that are used in supervised learning. These algorithms can be divided into two groups: parametric and non-parametric. Parametric algorithms make assumptions about the underlying function that generates the data, while non-parametric algorithms do not make such assumptions.
Some of the most commonly used supervised learning algorithms include linear regression, logistic regression, decision trees, random forests, gradient boosting, support vector machines, and neural networks. Each of these algorithms has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of algorithm often depends on the specific problem at hand.
Decision trees are a type of supervised learning algorithm that is mostly used in classification problems. It works for both categorical and continuous input and output variables. In this technique, we split the population into two or more homogeneous sets based on the most significant splitter/differentiator in input variables.
Decision trees are a popular choice in data mining for the identification of a strategy that most likely leads to a particular goal. It’s also the foundation for more advanced ensemble methods such as bagging, random forests and gradient boosting.
Support Vector Machines
Support Vector Machines (SVM) are a type of supervised learning algorithm that can be used for both classification and regression challenges. However, they are mostly used in classification problems. In this algorithm, we plot each data item as a point in n-dimensional space (where n is the number of features you have) with the value of each feature being the value of a particular coordinate.
SVMs are based on the idea of finding a hyperplane that best divides a dataset into two classes. Support vectors are the data points nearest to the hyperplane, the points of a data set that, if removed, would alter the position of the dividing hyperplane. Because of this, they can be considered the critical elements of a data set.
Supervised Learning in Business Analysis
Supervised learning has a wide range of applications in business. It can be used to predict customer behavior, forecast sales, detect fraud, and much more. By using historical data, supervised learning can help businesses make better decisions and improve their performance.
For example, a retail company might use supervised learning to predict which products a customer is likely to buy based on their past purchases. This can help the company recommend products to the customer, increasing sales and customer satisfaction. Similarly, a credit card company might use supervised learning to detect fraudulent transactions. By learning from past transactions, the algorithm can identify patterns that are likely to indicate fraud, helping the company prevent fraud and save money.
Customer segmentation is a common use case for supervised learning in business. By using historical data about customers, supervised learning algorithms can identify patterns and group similar customers together. This can help businesses target their marketing efforts more effectively, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction.
For example, a telecom company might use supervised learning to segment its customers into different groups based on their usage patterns. The company could then target each group with different marketing campaigns, offering each group the products and services that are most likely to appeal to them.
Fraud detection is another common use case for supervised learning in business. By learning from historical data about fraudulent and non-fraudulent transactions, supervised learning algorithms can identify patterns that are likely to indicate fraud. This can help businesses detect and prevent fraud, saving them money and protecting their customers.
For example, a credit card company might use supervised learning to detect fraudulent transactions. The algorithm could learn from past transactions, identifying patterns that are likely to indicate fraud. When a new transaction comes in, the algorithm could analyze it for these patterns. If it detects a pattern that indicates fraud, it could flag the transaction for review, helping the company prevent fraud and protect its customers.
Supervised learning is a powerful tool for data analysis, enabling businesses to make predictions and decisions based on historical data. With a wide range of applications, from customer segmentation to fraud detection, supervised learning can provide valuable insights and improve business performance.
Whether you’re a business analyst looking to improve your company’s performance, or a data scientist looking to build predictive models, understanding supervised learning is essential. By understanding the concepts and techniques of supervised learning, you can harness the power of data to make better decisions and drive business success.