Classification Basics: Understanding Supervised Learning, Classification, and More
Machine learning is a buzzword that has been making rounds in tech circles for some time now. It is a subfield of artificial intelligence that focuses on teaching machines how to learn from data and make decisions without being explicitly programmed.
One of the most popular techniques in machine learning is supervised learning, which involves training a machine learning model on a set of labeled examples to make predictions on new, unseen data. In this article, we will explore the basics of classification, discuss the differences between classification and regression, examine the applications of classification, and shed light on some of the common misconceptions around clustering.
What is Supervised Learning?
Supervised learning is a type of machine learning that involves feeding a model labeled data to train it to recognize patterns and relationships in the data.
Labeled data refers to data that has already been tagged with a label or outcome, such as predicting whether an email is spam or not. The idea is to expose the model to numerous examples of similar labeled data so it can learn to generalize and make accurate predictions on new, unseen data.
What is Classification?
Classification is a type of supervised learning that involves predicting a categorical or discrete output based on input features.
Consider the example of classifying images of animals based on their features. We would feed a machine learning algorithm multiple labeled examples of different animals such as cats, dogs, and birds, each with unique features such as fur, feathers, eyes, and so on.
Once the algorithm is trained on these examples, it can analyze a new image and predict the animal it represents. This process is applied in numerous realworld use cases, including fraud detection, sentiment analysis, and medical diagnosis.
Applications of Classification
Classification is used in various applications such as text classification, image recognition, speech recognition, and natural language processing. In the field of natural language processing, a classifier could be used to identify the author of a given text or sentiments expressed in an article.
In image recognition, a classification algorithm could be used to detect objects within an image like cars, buildings, or people. In medicine, classification could be used to detect diseases, where diagnosis is based on the examination of medical images or laboratory samples.
Differences Between Classification and Regression
Classification and regression are two core techniques in supervised learning that are often confused with each other. While classification seeks to predict discrete outcomes, regression aims to predict continuous values such as temperature, rainfall, or height.
However, the differences between classification and regression go beyond their outputs. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.
 Type of Data: In classification, the output variable is categorical, while in regression, it is continuous.
 Output: Classification tries to assign a label or a class to an input, while regression tries to predict a real value for an input.
 Performance Metrics: For classification, the accuracy score measures how well the classifier predicts the correct class label. In regression, metrics such as the mean squared error or Rsquared are used to measure how well the model’s prediction fits the actual values.
 Working: Classification algorithms try to divide the input space into areas corresponding to the different classes. Regression algorithms try to fit a line or curve to the input data.
 Algorithms: Classification algorithms include logistic regression, decision trees, and support vector machines (SVM). Regression algorithms include linear regression, polynomial regression, and random forest regression.
Examples:
 Examples of classification tasks include email spam detection, fraud detection, and object recognition.
 Examples of regression tasks include predicting stock prices, housing prices, and health outcomes.
Are Classification and Clustering the Same?
One of the most common misconceptions around classification is that it is the same as clustering.
While both are used to group data, the mechanisms for achieving the categorization are different. In classification, data is grouped based on predefined categories, while in clustering, the grouping is based on similarity or dissimilarity.
Clustering is often used to find patterns in unstructured data such as customer behavior and market segmentation.
Naive Bayes Algorithm
The Naive Bayes algorithm is a popular and straightforward classification algorithm that uses Bayes’ theorem with a naive assumption of independence between the input features. It is fast, robust, and works well for highdimensional datasets.
The MultinomialNB class of the scikitlearn library is a commonly used implementation of the Naive Bayes algorithm for text classification problems.
Example: Let’s say we want to classify emails as spam or not. We would first extract features such as the presence of specific words, the number of exclamation marks, and the number of links.
We would then train the Naive Bayes algorithm on a set of labeled emails. Once the model is trained, we can use it to classify new, unseen emails as spam or not.
Conclusion:
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are rapidly evolving fields that hold immense promise for the future. Classification is a fundamental technique that is used in various applications and requires a good understanding of the differences between classification and regression.
Clustering is a related concept that is often confused with classification. The Naive Bayes algorithm is a powerful classification algorithm that is particularly useful in text classification problems.
3) KNearest Neighbors(KNN) Algorithm
The KNearest Neighbors (KNN) algorithm is a supervised learning algorithm that can be used for both classification and regression tasks. It is a nonparametric algorithm that is based on the idea that similar inputs have similar outputs.
The algorithm works by classifying a new data point by looking at its k closest neighbors in the training set and assigning the most common class in the neighborhood as the predicted class for the new data point.
KNN is a simple but powerful machine learning algorithm that is easy to implement and does not require extensive training data. The algorithm can be used for classification and regression problems, and it is intuitive to understand.
The idea behind KNN is that similar things are close together. In other words, if an object is near a group of similar objects, it is likely to be similar to them.
KNeighborsClassifier class of the sklearn library
The scikitlearn library’s KNeighborsClassifier class is a commonly used implementation of the KNN algorithm in Python. The KNeighborsClassifier object takes several arguments that are used to finetune the algorithm’s performance.
Description of Arguments
 n_neighbors: This parameter specifies the number of neighbors to consider for classification. A larger value of k will decrease the model’s variance but increase its bias.
 weights: This parameter specifies how to weight the contributions of the neighbors to the classification decision. The default value is ‘uniform,’ which means that all points in each neighborhood are weighted equally.
 An alternative option is ‘distance,’ where the closer neighbors have a greater influence on the classification decision.
 algorithm: The algorithm parameter specifies the algorithm to be used for computing the nearest neighbors.
 The default value is ‘auto,’ which will attempt to determine the best algorithm based on the input data. Other options include ‘brute,’ ‘ball_tree,’ and ‘kd_tree.’
 leaf_size: This parameter specifies the size of the leaf node in the KDtree used for nearest neighbor searches.
 p: This parameter controls the power parameter for the Minkowski metric distance calculation. The default is 2, which is the Euclidean distance.
4) Support Vector Classifier
Support Vector Machines (SVM) are a popular machine learning algorithm used for both classification and regression tasks. The algorithm’s objective is to find a hyperplane in an ndimensional space that separates the data into different classes as widely as possible.
The hyperplane is chosen such that it maximizes the margin between the classes, or the distance between the hyperplane and the closest points from each class. The Support Vector Classifier (SVC) is the classification equivalent of the SVM algorithm.
SVC class of the scikitlearn library
The scikitlearn library’s SVC class is a commonly used implementation of the SVM algorithm in Python. The SVC object takes several arguments that are used to finetune the algorithm’s performance.
The kernel parameter specifies the kernel function used to transform the input data into a higherdimensional space. Common kernel functions include linear, polynomial, and radial basis function (RBF).
The C parameter controls the tradeoff between maximizing the margin and minimizing the classification error. A smaller value of C will allow more errors in the training data, while a larger value of C will result in fewer errors but may lead to overfitting.
The degree parameter is used in polynomial kernel functions and specifies the degree of the polynomial kernel. The gamma parameter controls the degree of influence of a single training example, and its value affects the shape of the decision boundary.
A larger gamma value results in a more complex decision boundary that may be prone to overfitting.
Example
To illustrate the SVC algorithm, let’s consider the problem of classifying handwritten digits. We would first extract features from the images, such as pixel intensity values, the number of straight lines, and the curvature of lines.
We would then train the SVC model on a set of labeled images. Once the model is trained, we can use it to classify new, unseen images of handwritten digits.
Conclusion:
Machine learning algorithms are powerful tools for solving complex problems in various domains. The KNearest Neighbors (KNN) algorithm is a simple yet powerful machine learning algorithm that can be used in both classification and regression tasks.
The Support Vector Classifier (SVC) is a popular machine learning algorithm used for classification tasks. These algorithms, along with others, form the backbone of many machine learning applications, and understanding them is essential for building accurate and reliable models.
5) Conclusion
In this article, we have covered two popular algorithms used in supervised learning to solve classification problems: KNearest Neighbors (KNN) and Support Vector Classifier (SVC). We have described the basic concepts behind these algorithms, including how they work, their key parameters, and how they can be applied to realworld problems.
Summary of the discussed algorithms
KNN is a simple but powerful algorithm that is based on the idea of similarity between data points. It is a nonparametric algorithm, meaning it does not assume anything about the underlying data distribution.
KNN can be used for both classification and regression problems and is useful when the training data is small.
SVC is a more complex algorithm that is based on finding a hyperplane in a highdimensional feature space that separates the classes as widely as possible.
It is a popular algorithm in applications such as image recognition, text classification, and bioinformatics. SVC allows for a variety of kernels to be used, including linear, polynomial, and radial basis function (RBF) kernels.
Further reading and exploration
There are several resources available for further reading and exploration of these algorithms and other related topics in machine learning. Some of the resources are mentioned below:

Python Machine Learning: Machine Learning and Deep Learning with Python, scikitlearn, and TensorFlow by Sebastian Raschka
This book provides a comprehensive overview of machine learning techniques in Python, with a focus on the scikitlearn library. It covers topics such as classification, clustering, regression, and deep learning.

Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning by Christopher Bishop
This book is a comprehensive introduction to the field of pattern recognition and machine learning.
It covers both classical and modern algorithms and provides a theoretical foundation for understanding these techniques.

Machine Learning Crash Course by Google
This free course by Google offers an introduction to machine learning concepts, tools, and algorithms, including supervised and unsupervised learning, neural networks, and more.

Kaggle: https://www.kaggle.com
Kaggle is an online community of data scientists and machine learning enthusiasts. It offers a platform for competitions, tutorials, and learning resources on machine learning and related topics.
In conclusion, machine learning is a rapidly evolving field with numerous techniques and tools available to solve various problems. Understanding the basic concepts behind these algorithms is essential for building accurate and reliable models.
Further reading and exploration can offer deeper insights into specific algorithms, as well as more advanced topics, such as deep learning and reinforcement learning. The resources mentioned above are just a few examples of the many available options for further learning in this exciting field of research and application.
In conclusion, this article has explored two popular algorithms used in supervised learning for solving classification problems: KNearest Neighbors (KNN) and Support Vector Classifier (SVC). We have described the fundamental principles of each algorithm, their main parameters, and how they can be applied to realworld problems in various fields.
Understanding these algorithms, along with other techniques in machine learning, is vital for building accurate and reliable models that can be used to make datadriven decisions. By taking advantage of the resources available for further exploration, readers can expand their knowledge of these techniques and contribute to the development of innovative solutions for complex problems.