, a branch of artificial intelligence
, is a scientific discipline concerned with the design and development of algorithms
that take as input empirical data
, such as that from sensors
, and yield patterns or predictions thought to be features of the underlying mechanism that generated the data. A learner can take advantage of examples (data) to capture characteristics of interest of their unknown underlying probability distribution. Data can be seen as instances of the possible relations between observed variables. A major focus of machine learning research is the design of algorithms that recognize complex patterns and make intelligent decisions based on input data. One fundamental difficulty is that the set of all possible behaviors given all possible inputs is too large to be included in the set of observed examples (training data). Hence the learner must generalize from the given examples in order to produce a useful output in new cases.