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Machine Learning Is Not Magic: A Gentle Introduction to ML

This piece is the latest in a series, called “Machine Learning Is Not Magic,” covering how to get started in machine learning, using familiar tools such as Excel, Python, Jupyter Notebooks and cloud services from Azure and Amazon Web Services. Check back here each Friday for future installments. 

I was fascinated by a demo that I saw at one of the Microsoft conferences. The presenter uploaded candid pictures of people to a website called how-old.net, and it detected the age of all the individuals in the photo with great accuracy. Microsoft claimed that the site was powered by Machine Learning which obviously raised my curiosity. Since then, I came across many amazing use cases and scenarios that are based on Machine Learning.

From predicting weather to enabling an autonomous car to drive itself, ML is everywhere. As a technologist, I always wondered what goes behind the scenes of such powerful applications. Most of the guides that are available for ML introduce various concepts without really demystifying it for developers. My objective is to connect the dots to demystify how the concepts of ML are applied in these complex use cases.

Before we delve into the details, it is important to understand the expected goal of an ML implementation. At a very high level, the aim of any Machine Learning program is to either predict an outcome or classify an item. For example, as developers, we are expected to incorporate ML to predict the stock price of a specific company based on historical data; predict how much rise an employee would get in five years; categorize a set of resumes into the profiles of architects, developers, and admins; Find if a credit card transaction is genuine or fraudulent.

Predicting a value based on existing data.

Classifying an object based on existing data.

Microsoft’s how-old.net website uses a classification technique of ML to place the peron within a specific age bracket.

Finding age of a person based on existing data.

 You may argue that it is entirely possible to achieve the goal without having to go through the process of learning and implementing ML.

Read the entire article at The New Stack

Janakiram MSV is an analyst, advisor, and architect. Follow him on Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Janakiram MSV heads the Cloud Infrastructure Services at Aditi Technologies. He was the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. In his current role, he leads a highly talented engineering team that focuses on migrating and managing applications deployed on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.
Janakiram is an industry analyst with deep understanding of Cloud services. Through his speaking, writing and analysis, he helps businesses take advantage of the emerging technologies. He leverages his experience of engaging with the industry in developing informative and practical research, analysis and authoritative content to inform, influence and guide decision makers. He analyzes market trends, new products / features, announcements, industry happenings and the impact of executive transitions.
Janakiram is one of the first few Microsoft Certified Professionals on Windows Azure in India. Demystifying The Cloud, an eBook authored by Janakiram is downloaded more than 100,000 times within the first few months. He is the Chief Editor of a popular portal on Cloud called www.CloudStory.in that covers the latest trends in Cloud Computing. Janakiram is an analyst with the GigaOM Pro analyst network where he analyzes the Cloud Services landscape. He is a guest faculty at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) where he teaches Big Data and Cloud Computing to students enrolled for the Masters course. As a passionate speaker, he has chaired the Cloud Computing track at premier events in India.
He has been the keynote speaker at many premier conferences, and his seminars are attended by thousands of architects, developers and IT professionals. His sessions are rated among the best in every conference he participates.
Janakiram has worked at the world-class product companies including Microsoft Corporation, Amazon Web Services and Alcatel-Lucent. Joining as the first employee of Amazon Web Services in India, he was the AWS Technology Evangelist. Prior to that, Janakiram spent 10 years at Microsoft Corporation where he was involved in selling, marketing and evangelizing the Microsoft Application Platform and Tools.