Through exposure to the news and social media, you are probably aware of the fact that machine learning has become one of the most exciting technologies of our time and age. Large companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and IBM, heavily invest in machine learning research and applications for good reasons. While it may seem that machine learning has become the buzzword of our time and age, it is certainly not a fad. This exciting field opens the way to new possibilities and has become indispensable to our daily lives. This is evident in talking to the voice assistant on our smartphones, recommending the right product for our customers, preventing credit card fraud, filtering out spam from our email inboxes, detecting and diagnosing medical diseases, the list goes on and on. If you want to become a machine learning practitioner, a better problem solver, or maybe even consider a career in machine learning research, then this book is for you. However, for a novice, the theoretical concepts behind machine learning can be quite overwhelming. Many practical books have been published in recent years that will help you get started in machine learning by implementing powerful learning algorithms. Getting exposed to practical code examples and working through example applications of machine learning are a great way to dive into this field. Concrete examples help illustrate the broader concepts by putting the learned material directly into action. However, remember that with great power comes great responsibility! In addition to offering a hands-on experience with machine learning using the Python programming languages and Python-based machine learning libraries, this book introduces the mathematical concepts behind machine learning algorithms, which is essential for using machine learning successfully. Thus, this book is different from a purely practical book; it is a book that discusses the necessary details regarding machine learning concepts and offers intuitive yet informative explanations of how machine learning algorithms work, how to use them, and most importantly, how to avoid the most common pitfalls.
Currently, if you type “machine learning” as a search term in Google Scholar, it returns an overwhelmingly large number of publications—1,800,000. Of course, we cannot discuss the nitty-gritty of all the different algorithms and applications that have emerged in the last 60 years. However, in this book, we will embark on an exciting journey that covers all the essential topics and concepts to give you a head start in this field. If you find that your thirst for knowledge is not satisfied, this book references many useful resources that can be used to follow up on the essential breakthroughs in this field. If you have already studied machine learning theory in detail, this book will show you how to put your knowledge into practice. If you have used machine learning techniques before and want to gain more insight into how machine learning actually works, this book is for you. Don’t worry if you are completely new to the machine learning field; you have even more reason to be excited. Here is a promise that machine learning will change the way you think about the problems you want to solve and will show you how to tackle them by unlocking the power of data. Before we dive deeper into the machine learning field, let’s answer your most important question, “Why Python?” The answer is simple: it is powerful yet very accessible. Python has become the most popular programming language for data science because it allows us to forget about the tedious parts of programming and offers us an environment where we can quickly jot down our ideas and put concepts directly into action. We, the authors, can truly say that the study of machine learning has made us better scientists, thinkers, and problem solvers. In this book, we want to share this knowledge with you. Knowledge is gained by learning. The key is our enthusiasm, and the real mastery of skills can only be achieved by practice. The road ahead may be bumpy on occasions and some topics may be more challenging than others, but we hope that you will embrace this opportunity and focus on the reward. Remember that we are on this journey together, and throughout this book, we will add many powerful techniques to your arsenal that will help us solve even the toughest problems the data-driven way.
What this book covers
Chapter 1, Giving Computers the Ability to Learn from Data, introduces you to the main subareas of machine learning in order to tackle various problem tasks. In addition, it discusses the essential steps for creating a typical machine learning model by building a pipeline that will guide us through the following chapters.
Chapter 2, Training Simple Machine Learning Algorithms for Classification, goes back to the origins of machine learning and introduces binary perceptron classifiers and adaptive linear neurons. This chapter is a gentle introduction to the fundamentals of pattern classification and focuses on the interplay of optimization algorithms and machine learning.
Chapter 3, A Tour of Machine Learning Classifiers Using scikit-learn, describes the essential machine learning algorithms for classification and provides practical examples using one of the most popular and comprehensive open source machine learning libraries: scikit-learn.
Chapter 4, Building Good Training Sets – Data Preprocessing, discusses how to deal with the most common problems in unprocessed datasets, such as missing data. It also discusses several approaches to identify the most informative features in datasets and teaches you how to prepare variables of different types as proper input for machine learning algorithms.
Chapter 5, Compressing Data via Dimensionality Reduction, describes the essential techniques to reduce the number of features in a dataset to smaller sets while retaining most of their useful and discriminatory information. It discusses the standard approach to dimensionality reduction via principal component analysis and compares it to supervised and nonlinear transformation techniques.
Chapter 6, Learning Best Practices for Model Evaluation and Hyperparameter Tuning, discusses the dos and don’ts for estimating the performances of predictive models. Moreover, it discusses different metrics for measuring the performance of our models and techniques to fine-tune machine learning algorithms.
Chapter 7, Combining Different Models for Ensemble Learning, introduces you to the different concepts of combining multiple learning algorithms effectively. It teaches you how to build ensembles of experts to overcome the weaknesses of individual learners, resulting in more accurate and reliable predictions.
Chapter 8, Applying Machine Learning to Sentiment Analysis, discusses the essential steps to transform textual data into meaningful representations for machine learning algorithms to predict the opinions of people based on their writing.
Chapter 9, Embedding a Machine Learning Model into a Web Application, continues with the predictive model from the previous chapter and walks you through the essential steps of developing web applications with embedded machine learning models.
Chapter 10, Predicting Continuous Target Variables with Regression Analysis, discusses the essential techniques for modeling linear relationships between target and response variables to make predictions on a continuous scale. After introducing different linear models, it also talks about polynomial regression and tree-based approaches.
Chapter 11, Working with Unlabeled Data – Clustering Analysis, shifts the focus to a different subarea of machine learning, unsupervised learning. We apply algorithms from three fundamental families of clustering algorithms to find groups of objects that share a certain degree of similarity.
Chapter 12, Implementing a Multilayer Artificial Neural Network from Scratch, extends the concept of gradient-based optimization, which we first introduced in Chapter 2, Training Simple Machine Learning Algorithms for Classification, to build powerful, multilayer neural networks based on the popular backpropagation algorithm in Python.
Chapter 13, Parallelizing Neural Network Training with TensorFlow, builds upon the knowledge from the previous chapter to provide you with a practical guide for training neural networks more efficiently. The focus of this chapter is on TensorFlow, an open source Python library that allows us to utilize multiple cores of modern GPUs.
Chapter 14, Going Deeper – The Mechanics of TensorFlow, covers TensorFlow in greater detail explaining its core concepts of computational graphs and sessions. In addition, this chapter covers topics such as saving and visualizing neural network graphs, which will come in very handy during the remaining chapters of this book.
Chapter 15, Classifying Images with Deep Convolutional Neural Networks, discusses deep neural network architectures that have become the new standard in computer vision and image recognition fields—convolutional neural networks. This chapter will discuss the main concepts between convolutional layers as a feature extractor and apply convolutional neural network architectures to an image classification task to achieve almost perfect classification accuracy.
Chapter 16, Modeling Sequential Data Using Recurrent Neural Networks, introduces another popular neural network architecture for deep learning that is especially well suited for working with sequential data and time series data. In this chapter, we will apply different recurrent neural network architectures to text data. We will start with a sentiment analysis task as a warm-up exercise and will learn how to generate entirely new text.