Supervised Learning

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Supervised learning

Supervised Learning is the machine learning task of inferring a function from supervised training data. The training set consist of a set of training examples. In supervised learning, each example is a pair consisting of an input object (typically a vector) and a desired output value (also called the supervisory signal). A supervised learning algorithm analyzes the training data and produces an inferred function, which is called a classifier or a regression function (if the output is continuous,. The inferred function should predict the correct output value for any valid input object. This requires the learning algorithm to generalize from the training data to unseen situations in a "reasonable" way.The parallel task in human and animal psychology is often referred to as concept learning.


In order to solve a given problem of supervised learning, one has to perform the following steps:

  1. Determine the type of training examples. Before doing anything else, the engineer should decide what kind of data is to be used as an example. For instance, this might be a single handwritten character, an entire handwritten word, or an entire line of handwriting.
  2. Gather a training set. The training set needs to be representative of the real-world use of the function. Thus, a set of input objects is gathered and corresponding outputs are also gathered, either from human experts or from measurements.
  3. Determine the input feature representation of the learned function. The accuracy of the learned function depends strongly on how the input object is represented. Typically, the input object is transformed into a feature vector, which contains a number of features that are descriptive of the object. The number of features should not be too large, because of the curse of dimensionality; but should contain enough information to accurately predict the output.
  4. Determine the structure of the learned function and corresponding learning algorithm. For example, the engineer may choose to use Support Vector Machines or Decision tree learnings.
  5. Complete the design. Run the learning algorithm on the gathered training set. Some supervised learning algorithms require the user to determine certain control parameters. These parameters may be adjusted by optimizing performance on a subset (called a validation set) of the training set, or via cross-validation.
  6. Evaluate the accuracy of the learned function. After parameter adjustment and learning, the performance of the resulting function should be measured on a test set that is separate from the training set.

A wide range of supervised learning algorithms is available, each with its strengths and weaknesses. There is no single learning algorithm that works best on all supervised learning problems