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Data Processing

Log-transform the skewed features

A dataset may sometimes contain at least one feature whose values tend to lie near a single number, but will also have a non-trivial number of vastly larger or smaller values than that single number. Algorithms can be sensitive to such distributions of values and can underperform if the range is not properly normalized.
Using a logarithmic transformation significantly reduces the range of values caused by outliers.

skewed = ['<feature_column_name_1>', '<feature_column_name_2>']
features_log_transformed = pd.DataFrame(data = features_raw)
# log(x + 1) to avoid log(0) which is undefined
features_log_transformed[skewed] = features_raw[skewed].apply(lambda x: np.log(x + 1))

One-hot Encoding

Typically, learning algorithms expect input to be numeric, which requires that non-numeric features [called categorical variables] be converted. One popular way to convert categorical variables is by using the one-hot encoding scheme. One-hot encoding creates a “dummy” variable for each possible category of each non-numeric feature. For example, assume someFeature has three possible entries: A, B, or C. We then encode this feature into someFeature_A, someFeature_B and someFeature_C.

features_final = pd.get_dummies(features_original)

Manual Encoding

If a column/feature has only two possible categories, we can avoid using one-hot encoding and simply encode these two categories as 0 and 1, respectively.

income = income_raw.replace(['<=50K', '>50K'], [0, 1])

Scikit - Feature Scaling

Normalisation/Scaling ensures that each feature is treated equally when applying supervised learners.

from sklearn.preprocessing import MinMaxScaler

scaler = MinMaxScaler() # default=(0, 1)
numerical = ['age', 'education-num', 'capital-gain', 'capital-loss', 'hours-per-week']

features_log_minmax_transform = pd.DataFrame(data = features_log_transformed)
features_log_minmax_transform[numerical] = scaler.fit_transform(features_log_transformed[numerical])

Split Data - Training and Testing

from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split

# Split the 'features' and 'income' data into training and testing sets
X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(X_raw, 
                                                    test_size = 0.2, 
                                                    random_state = 0)

Model Evaluation Metrics


from sklearn.metrics import accuracy_score

accuracy_score(y_test, y_pred)

F-Beta Score

from sklearn.metrics import fbeta_score

fbeta_score(y_test, y_pred, beta=0.5)

Supervised Learning

Supervised Learning - Notes


K-Nearest-Neighbours (K-NN)

Classification And/Or Regression?

Used for both classification and regression problems

Properties and Assumptions

  • As n [size of training data set] -> ∞, the 1-NN classifier is only a factor of 2 worse than the best possible classifier.
  • Assumes that similar points share similar labels.
  • “Lazy” learners, i.e there is no learning or training step. Instead there is a computation step [computing the nearest neighbours] to make every prediction.
  • Neighbors-based methods are known as instance based or non-generalizing machine learning methods, since they simply “remember” all of its training data [possibly transformed into a fast indexing structure such as a Ball Tree or KD Tree].
  • The optimal choice of the value k is highly data-dependent: in general a larger k suppresses the effects of noise, but makes the classification boundaries less distinct.

Real-World Applications


  • Simple to understand and implement.
  • k-NN is a simple and effective classifier if distances reliably reflect a semantically meaningful notion of the dissimilarity of data points.
  • As , k-NN becomes provably very accurate, but also very slow.1
  • It is often successful in classification situations where the decision boundary is very irregular.


  • As , i.e. dimensionality of the data becomes high, points drawn from a probability distribution stop being similar to each other, and the k-NN assumption breaks down.1
  • Can become prohibitively slow to make predictions on new data when the training data set is very large.1




Perceptron algorithm is historically important: it was one of the first machine learning algorithms ever derived and was even implemented in analog hardware

Classification And/Or Regression?


Properties and Assumptions

  • A single perceptron can only be used to implement linearly separable functions.1
  • If a data set is linearly separable, the Perceptron will find a separating hyperplane in a finite number of updates. [If the data is not linearly separable, it will loop forever.]1
  • Perceptrons work well with high dimensional data.
  • Doesn’t require a learning rate.
  • It updates the model only on mistakes.



Naive Bayes

  • For most common cases [Multinomial, Gaussian] NB is a linear classifier.2
  • NB estimates a distribution given the data and then finds a hyperplane separating the data. This is subtly different to Perceptron which finds a hyperplane separating the data directly.
  • Different flavours of NB exist and are used depending the properties of the features, x.2
    • Categorical NB: When features take a categorical value. Ex: Patient Gender feature used to predict probability of a certain disease.
    • Multinomial NB: When features values represent counts and not categorical values: Ex: Number of occurrences of a word in an email that needs to be classified as spam or ham.
    • Gaussian NB: When features take on continuous, real values and follow a gaussian distribution.

Classification And/Or Regression?


Real-World Applications

  • Document classification [multinomial NB]
  • Spam filtering [multinomial NB]

Properties and Assumptions

  • A generative learning algorithm.2
  • When X is a vector of discrete-valued attributes, Naive Bayes learning algorithms can be viewed as linear classifiers; that is, every such Naive Bayes classifier corresponds to a hyperplane decision surface in X. The same statement holds for Gaussian Naive Bayes classifiers if the variance of each feature is assumed to be independent of the class.3


  • They require a small amount of training data to estimate the necessary parameters.1
  • Naive Bayes learners and classifiers can be extremely fast [there is no model to “train”]5 compared to more sophisticated methods.1
  • The decoupling of the class conditional feature distributions means that each distribution can be independently estimated as a one dimensional distribution. This in turn helps to alleviate problems stemming from the curse of dimensionality.1


  • [Gaussian NB] Doesn’t work well with outliers. There can be cases where a linear decision boundary for classification exists, but GNB fails to make correct prediction for outliers. On the other hand, in such a scenarios, a simple Perceptron works and makes correct prediction. However, NB is much faster compared to perceptron as the perceptron can be slow to converge.4
  • Although naive Bayes is known as a decent classifier, it is known to be a bad estimator.1


  4. Machine Learning Lecture 10 “Naive Bayes continued” -Cornell CS4780 SP17
  5. Naive Bayes vs Logistic Regression, Machine Learning Lecture 12 - Cornell CS4780 SP17

Logistic Regression

Classification And/Or Regression?


Real-World Applications


Properties and Assumptions

  • Discriminative and parametric learning algorithm.1
  • Discriminative counterpart of GNB.2
  • A linear model for classification.3
  • Logistic regression is a generalized linear model. Generalized linear models are, despite their name, not generally considered linear models. They have a linear component, but the model itself is nonlinear due to the nonlinearity introduced by the link function.5
  • Unlike in Naive Bayes, in Logistic Regression we do not restrict ourselves in any way by making assumptions about . This allows logistic regression to be more flexible, but such flexibility also requires more data to avoid overfitting.2
  • Typically, in scenarios with little data and if the modeling assumption is appropriate, Naive Bayes tends to outperform Logistic Regression. However, as data sets become large logistic regression often outperforms Naive Bayes, which suffers from the fact that the assumptions made on are probably not exactly correct. If the assumptions hold exactly, i.e. the data is truly drawn from the distribution that we assumed in Naive Bayes, then Logistic Regression and Naive Bayes converge to the exact same result in the limit [but NB will be faster].2
  • Logistic regression typically optimizes the log loss for all the observations on which it is trained, which is the same as optimizing the average cross-entropy in the sample.6


  • Can overfit, especially when there isn’t much training data and the data has high dimensionality.4


  1. Sec 8.1 Machine Learning A Probabilistic Perspective, Kevin P. Murphy
  4. Problem with Logistic Regression, Naive Bayes vs Logistic Regression, Machine Learning Lecture 12 - Cornell CS4780 SP17
  5. Why-is-logistic-regression-considered-a-linear-model
  6. Cross-entropy loss function and logistic regression

Decision Trees

Classification And/Or Regression?

Used for both classification and regression problems


  • Simple to understand and to interpret. People are able to understand decision tree models after a brief explanation. Trees can be visualised in a way that is easy for non-experts to interpret.
  • Mirrors human decision making more closely than other approaches. This could be useful when modeling human decisions/behavior.
  • Requires little data preparation. Other techniques often require data normalisation, dummy variables need to be created and blank values to be removed.
  • The cost of using the tree [i.e., predicting data] is logarithmic in the number of data points used to train the tree.
  • Performs well with large datasets. Large amounts of data can be analyzed using standard computing resources in reasonable time.
  • Able to handle both numerical and categorical data.
  • Able to handle multi-output problems.
  • Uses a white box model. If a given situation is observable in a model, the explanation for the condition is easily explained by boolean logic. By contrast, in a black box model [e.g., in an artificial neural network], results may be more difficult to interpret.
  • Possible to validate a model using statistical tests. That makes it possible to account for the reliability of the model.
  • Non-statistical approach that makes no assumptions of the training data or prediction residuals; e.g., no distributional, independence, or constant variance assumptions
  • In built feature selection. Additional irrelevant feature will be less used so that they can be removed on subsequent runs.
  • Decision trees can approximate any Boolean function eq. XOR.


  • Trees can be very non-robust. A small change in the training data can result in a large change in the tree and consequently the final predictions. This problem is mitigated by using decision trees within an ensemble.
  • The problem of learning an optimal decision tree is known to be NP-complete under several aspects of optimality and even for simple concepts. Consequently, practical decision-tree learning algorithms are based on heuristics such as the greedy algorithm where locally optimal decisions are made at each node. Such algorithms cannot guarantee to return the globally optimal decision tree.
  • Over-fitting or high variance: decision-tree learners can create over-complex trees that do not generalize well from the training data. Mechanisms such as pruning are necessary to avoid this problem [with the exception of some algorithms such as the Conditional Inference approach, that does not require pruning]. Other methods to avoid this problem include setting the minimum number of samples required at a leaf node or setting the maximum depth of the tree.
  • For data including categorical variables with different numbers of levels, information gain in decision trees is biased in favor of attributes with more levels. However, the issue of biased predictor selection is avoided by the Conditional Inference approach, a two-stage approach, or adaptive leave-one-out feature selection.
  • Decision tree learners create biased trees if some classes dominate. It is therefore recommended to balance the dataset prior to fitting with the decision tree.
  • Trees generally do not have the same level of predictive accuracy as some of the other regression and classification approaches and are typically used in an ensemble.


  • An Introduction to Statistical Learning, Gareth James et all

Unsupervised Learning

Two popular methods for unsupervised learning:

  • Clustering
  • Dimensionality Reduction



  • Distance, from centroid, based clustering algorithm
  • Needs feature scaling since the algorithm relies on distances of data points from centroid


Real-world Applications

  • Recommendation systems - movies, music, books etc

Hierarchical [aka Agglomerative] clustering

  • Single link
  • Complete link
  • Average link
  • Ward method

Real-World Applications


  • Distance based approach, hence needs feature scaling
  • Single link method is more prone to result in elongated shapes that are not necessarily compact or circular because it looks at the closest point to the cluster, that can result in clusters of various shapes.2


  • Resulting hierarchical representation can be very informative1
  • Provides additional ability to visualise1
  • Especially potent when dataset contains real hierarchical relationships1


  • Sensitive to noise and outliers1
  • Computationally intensive 1


  1. Udacity - Intro to ML Nanodegree - 3.2.9 - Hierarchical Clustering Examples and Applications
  2. Udacity - Intro to ML Nanodegree - 3.2.10 - Hierarchical Clustering Quiz

Density Based Spatial Clustering of Applications with Noise [DBSCAN]

Density Based Spatial Clustering of Applications with Noise

Real-World Applications

  • Network traffic classification - what traffic is bitorrent related vs normal, when you can’t peek at the data packets themselves


  • Density based clustering algorithm


  • No need to specify number of clusters1
  • Flexibility in the shapes and sizes of clusters1
  • ABle to deal with noise and outliers1


  • Border points reachable from two cluster are assigned to a cluster arbitrarily1
  • Faces difficulty finding cluster of varying densities1


  1. Udacity - Intro to ML Nanodegree - 3.2.15 - DBSCAN Examples and Applications

Gaussian Mixture Model


  • Soft-clustering [sample membership of multiple clusters]1
  • Cluster shape flexibility1


  • Sensitive to initialisation values1
  • Possible to converge to a local optimum1
  • Slow convergence rate1


  1. Udacity - Intro to ML Nanodegree - 3.3.14 - GMM Examples and Applications

Independent Component Analysis [ICA]

Real-World Applications

  • Transform EEG scan data to do blind source separation3


  • ICA needs as many observations as the original signals we are trying to separate1
  • Assumes components are statistically independent2
  • Components must have non-gaussian distributions2


  1. Udacity - Intro to ML Nanodegree - 3.5.6 - ICA Quiz
  2. Udacity - Intro to ML Nanodegree - 3.5.5 - FastICA Algorithm
  3. Independent Component Analysis of Electroencephalographic Data

Misc Concepts

Vector of Training Examples, Labels, Model Parameters

Training examples, Labels, Model params / weights,

= value of feature in training example
m = # of training examples
n = # of features

Gradient Descent

Linear Models

Linear classifiers decides class membership by comparing a linear combination of the features to a threshold.1


  1. Sec 1.4.1 Machine Learning A Probabilistic Perspective, Kevin P. Murphy

Softmax Function

Given scores ,


Given probabilities of events happening and being a discrete function with value 1 is the event actually happened and 0 if the event didn’t actually happen, then,

Higher the cross-entropy, lower the probability for an event.

Parametric and Non-Parametric Models

Models that have a fixed number of parameters are called Parametric models, while models in which number of parameters grow with the amount of training data are called Non-Parametric models. Parametric models have the advantage of often being faster to use, but the disadvantage of making stronger assumptions about the nature of the data distributions. Non-parametric models are more flexible, but often computationally intractable for large datasets.

Example: K-NN is non-parametric classifier. Linear and Logistic regression are examples of parametric models.

Generative and Discriminative Learning

Generative classifiers learn a model of joint probability , of the inputs x and the label y, and make their prediction using Bayes Theorem to calculate and picking the most likely label y. Discriminative classifiers model the posterior directly, or learn a direct map from inputs x to class labels.

Maximum Likelihood Estimation, MLE and Maximum a Posteriori Probability Estimation, MAP

In supervised Machine learning you are provided with training data D. You use this data to train a model, represented by its parameters θ. With this model you want to make predictions on a test point .

Accuracy, Precision and Recall

  • Accuracy measures how often the classifier makes the correct prediction. It’s the ratio of the number of correct predictions to the total number of predictions (the number of test data points).

  • Precision tells us what proportion of messages we classified as spam, actually were spam. It is a ratio of true positives [words classified as spam, and which are actually spam] to all positives [all words classified as spam, irrespective of whether that was the correct classification].
    High precision = Ok if not all spam is found. But if marked as spam, better be spam.

  • Recall tells us what proportion of messages that actually were spam were classified by us as spam. It is a ratio of true positives [words classified as spam, and which are actually spam] to all the words that were actually spam.
    High Recall = Ok if not all are sick, but find all sick people

Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors

An eigenvalue is the same as the amount of variability captured by a principal component, and an eigenvector is the principal component itself

Misc Math


  • Slope intercept form

  • General form



  • Norm of a vector

  • Cauchy Schwartz inequality