Types of Machine Learning

In this Machine learning tutorial, you will learn different types of machine learning including ML algorithms, classification in machine learning, regression in machine learning, clustering in machine learning, dimensionality reduction in machine learning, and their use cases.

There are different ways in which a machine learns. In some cases, we train them and, in some other cases, machines learn on their own. Well, primarily, there are four types of machine learning – Supervised Learning, Unsupervised Learning, Semi-supervised Learning, and Reinforcement. In this module, we are going to discuss the types of machine learning in detail.

In case you want to jump right into a particular topic, here’s the table of contents for this module:

  • Types of Machine Learning
  • Supervised Machine Learning
    • Categories of Supervised Machine Learning
    • Advantages and Disadvantages of Supervised Learning
    • Applications of Supervised Learning
  • Unsupervised Machine Learning
    • Categories of Unsupervised Machine Learning
    • Advantages and Disadvantages of Unsupervised Learning
    • Applications of Unsupervised Learning
  • Semi-Supervised Learning
    • Advantages and Disadvantages of Semi-Supervised Learning
  • Reinforcement Learning
    • Categories of Reinforcement Learning
    • Applications of Reinforcement Learning
    • Advantages and Disadvantages of Reinforcement Learning
  • Conclusion

Types of Machine Learning

Machine Learning is a subset of AI, which enables the machine to automatically learn from data, improve performance from past experiences, and make predictions. Machine learning contains a set of algorithms that work on a huge amount of data. Data is fed to these algorithms to train them, and on the basis of training, they build the model & perform a specific task.

These ML algorithms help to solve different business problems like Regression, Classification, Forecasting, Clustering, Associations, etc.

Based on the methods and ways of learning, machine learning is divided into mainly four types, which are:

machine learning Family
  1. Supervised Machine Learning
  2. Unsupervised Machine Learning
  3. Semi-Supervised Machine Learning
  4. Reinforcement Learning

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Supervised Machine Learning

As the name suggests, Supervised machine learning is based on supervision. It means in the supervised learning technique, we train the machines using the “labelled” dataset, and based on the training, the machine predicts the output. Here, the labelled data specifies that some of the inputs are already mapped to the output. More preciously, we can say; first, we train the machine with the input and corresponding output, and then we ask the machine to predict the output using the test dataset.

Let’s understand supervised learning with an example. Suppose we have an input dataset of cat and dog images. So, first, we will provide the training to the machine to understand the images, such as the shape & size of the tail of a cat and a dog, the Shape of eyes, color, and height (dogs are taller, cats are smaller), etc. After completion of training, we input the picture of a cat and ask the machine to identify the object and predict the output. Now, the machine is well trained, so it will check all the features of the object, such as height, shape, color, eyes, ears, tail, etc., and find that it’s a cat. So, it will put it in the Cat category. This is the process of how the machine identifies the objects in Supervised Learning.

The main goal of the supervised learning technique is to map the input variable(x) with the output variable(y). Some real-world applications of supervised learning are Risk Assessment, Fraud Detection, Spam filtering, etc.

Categories of Supervised Machine Learning

Supervised machine learning can be classified into two types of problems, which are given below:

  • Classification
  • Regression

a) Classification

Classification algorithms are used to solve the classification problems in which the output variable is categorical, such as “Yes” or No, Male or Female, Red or Blue, etc. The classification algorithms predict the categories present in the dataset. Some real-world examples of classification algorithms are Spam Detection, Email filtering, etc.

Some popular classification algorithms are given below:

  • Random Forest Algorithm
  • Decision Tree Algorithm
  • Logistic Regression Algorithm
  • Support Vector Machine Algorithm

b) Regression

Regression algorithms are used to solve regression problems in which there is a linear relationship between input and output variables. These are used to predict continuous output variables, such as market trends, weather predictions, etc.

Some popular Regression algorithms are given below:

  • Simple Linear Regression Algorithm
  • Multivariate Regression Algorithm
  • Decision Tree Algorithm
  • Lasso Regression

Advantages and Disadvantages of Supervised Learning


  • Since supervised learning work with the labeled dataset so we can have an exact idea about the classes of objects.
  • These algorithms are helpful in predicting the output on the basis of prior experience.


  • These algorithms are not able to solve complex tasks.
  • It may predict the wrong output if the test data is different from the training data.
  • It requires lots of computational time to train the algorithm.

Applications of Supervised Learning

Some common applications of Supervised Learning are given below:

  • Image Segmentation: Supervised Learning algorithms are used in image segmentation. In this process, image classification is performed on different image data with pre-defined labels.
  • Medical Diagnosis: Supervised algorithms are also used in the medical field for diagnosis purposes. It is done by using medical images and past labeled data with labels for disease conditions. With such a process, the machine can identify a disease for the new pat
  • Fraud Detection: Supervised Learning classification algorithms are used for identifying fraud transactions, fraud customers, etc. It is done by using historic data to identify the patterns that can lead to possible fraud.
  • Spam detection: In spam detection & filtering, classification algorithms are used. These algorithms classify an email as spam or not spam. The spam emails are sent to the spam folder.
  • Speech Recognition: Supervised learning algorithms are also used in speech recognition. The algorithm is trained with voice data, and various identifications can be done using the same, such as voice-activated passwords, voice commands, etc.

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Unsupervised Machine Learning

Unsupervised learning is different from the Supervised learning technique; as its name suggests, there is no need for supervision. It means that in unsupervised machine learning, the machine is trained using the unlabeled dataset, and the machine predicts the output without any supervision.

In unsupervised learning, the models are trained with data that is neither classified nor labelled, and the model acts on that data without any supervision.

The main aim of the unsupervised learning algorithm is to group or categorize the unsorted dataset according to the similarities, patterns, and differences. Machines are instructed to find the hidden patterns from the input dataset.

Let’s take an example to understand it more preciously; suppose there is a basket of fruit images, and we input it into the machine learning model. The images are totally unknown to the model, and the task of the machine is to find the patterns and categories of the objects.

So, now the machine will discover its patterns and differences, such as color difference, and shape difference, and predict the output when it is tested with the test dataset.

Categories of Unsupervised Machine Learning

Unsupervised Learning can be further classified into two types, which are given below:

  • Clustering
  • Association


The clustering technique is used when we want to find the inherent groups from the data. It is a way to group the objects into a cluster such that the objects with the most similarities remain in one group and have fewer or no similarities with the objects of other groups. An example of the clustering algorithm is grouping the customers by their purchasing behaviour.

Some of the popular clustering algorithms are given below:

  • K-Means Clustering algorithm
  • Mean-shift algorithm
  • DBSCAN Algorithm
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Independent Component Analysis


Association rule learning is an unsupervised learning technique, which finds interesting relations among variables within a large dataset. The main aim of this learning algorithm is to find the dependency of one data item on another data item and map those variables accordingly so that it can generate maximum profit. This algorithm is mainly applied in Market Basket analysis, Web usage mining, continuous production, etc.

Some popular algorithms of Association rule learning are Apriori Algorithm, Eclat, FP-growth algorithm.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Unsupervised Learning Algorithm


  • These algorithms can be used for complicated tasks compared to the supervised ones because these algorithms work on the unlabeled dataset.
  • Unsupervised algorithms are preferable for various tasks as getting the unlabeled dataset is easier as compared to the labelled dataset.


  • The output of an unsupervised algorithm can be less accurate as the dataset is not labelled, and algorithms are not trained with the exact output in prior.
  • Working with Unsupervised learning is more difficult as it works with the unlabelled dataset that does not map with the output.

Applications of Unsupervised Learning

  • Network Analysis: Unsupervised learning is used for identifying plagiarism and copyright in document network analysis of text data for scholarly articles.
  • Recommendation Systems: Recommendation systems widely use unsupervised learning techniques for building recommendation applications for different web applications and e-commerce websites.
  • Anomaly Detection: Anomaly detection is a popular application of unsupervised learning, which can identify unusual data points within the dataset. It is used to discover fraudulent trans
  • Singular Value Decomposition: Singular Value Decomposition or SVD is used to extract particular information from the database. For example, extracting information of each user located at a particular location.

Semi-Supervised Learning

Semi-Supervised learning is a type of Machine Learning algorithm that lies between Supervised and Unsupervised machine learning. It represents the intermediate ground between Supervised (With Labelled training data) and Unsupervised learning (with no labelled training data) algorithms and uses the combination of labelled and unlabeled datasets during the training period.

Although Semi-supervised learning is the middle ground between supervised and unsupervised learning and operates on the data that consists of a few labels, it mostly consists of unlabeled data. As labels are costly, but for corporate purposes, they may have few labels. It is completely different from supervised and unsupervised learning as they are based on the presence & absence of labels.

To overcome the drawbacks of supervised learning and unsupervised learning algorithms, the concept of Semi-supervised learning is introduced. The main aim of semi-supervised learning is to effectively use all the available data, rather than only labelled data like in supervised learning. Initially, similar data is clustered along with an unsupervised learning algorithm, and further, it helps to label the unlabeled data into labelled data. It is because labelled data is a comparatively more expensive acquisition than unlabeled data.

We can imagine these algorithms with an example. Supervised learning is where a student is under the supervision of an instructor at home and college. Further, if that student is self-analyzing the same concept without any help from the instructor, it comes under unsupervised learning. Under semi-supervised learning, the student has to revise himself after analyzing the same concept under the guidance of an instructor at college.

Advantages and disadvantages of Semi-supervised Learning


  • It is simple and easy to understand the algorithm.
  • It is highly efficient.
  • It is used to solve drawbacks of Supervised and Unsupervised Learning algorithms.


  • Iterations results may not be stable.
  • We cannot apply these algorithms to network-level data.
  • Accuracy is low.

Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning works on a feedback-based process, in which an AI agent (A software component) automatically explore its surrounding by hitting & trial, taking action, learning from experiences, and improving its performance. Agent gets rewarded for each good action and gets punished for each bad action; hence the goal of reinforcement learning agent is to maximize the rewards.

In reinforcement learning, there is no labelled data like supervised learning, and agents learn from their experiences only.

The reinforcement learning process is similar to a human being; for example, a child learns various things by experiences in his day-to-day life. An example of reinforcement learning is to play a game, where the Game is the environment, moves of an agent at each step define states, and the goal of the agent is to get a high score. Agent receives feedback in terms of punishment and rewards.

Due to its way of working, reinforcement learning is employed in different fields such as Game theory, Operation Research, Information theory, and multi-agent systems.

A reinforcement learning problem can be formalized using Markov Decision Process(MDP). In MDP, the agent constantly interacts with the environment and performs actions; at each action, the environment responds and generates a new state.

Categories of Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning is categorized mainly into two types of methods/algorithms:

  • Positive Reinforcement Learning: Positive reinforcement learning specifies increasing the tendency that the required behavior would occur again by adding something. It enhances the strength of the behavior of the agent and positively impacts it.
  • Negative Reinforcement Learning: Negative reinforcement learning works exactly opposite to the positive RL. It increases the tendency that the specific behaviour would occur again by avoiding the negative condition.

Applications of Reinforcement Learning

  • Video Games:
    RL algorithms are much popular in gaming applications. It is used to gain super-human performance. Some popular games that use RL algorithms are AlphaGO and AlphaGO Zero.
  • Resource Management:
    The “Resource Management with Deep Reinforcement Learning” paper showed how to use RL in a computer to automatically learn and schedule resources to wait for different jobs in order to minimize average job slowdown.
  • Robotics:
    RL is widely being used in Robotics applications. Robots are used in the industrial and manufacturing area, and these robots are made more powerful with reinforcement learning. There are different industries that have their vision of building intelligent robots using AI and Machine learning technology.
  • Text Mining
    Text-mining, one of the great applications of NLP, is now being implemented with the help of Reinforcement Learning by Salesforce company.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Reinforcement Learning


  • It helps in solving complex real-world problems which are difficult to be solved by general techniques.
  • The learning model of RL is similar to the learning of human beings; hence most accurate results can be found.
  • Helps in achieving long-term results.


  • RL algorithms are not preferred for simple problems.
  • RL algorithms require huge data and computations.
  • Too much reinforcement learning can lead to an overload of states which can weaken the results.

The curse of dimensionality limits reinforcement learning for real physical systems.


This module highlighted the primary machine learning types, their workings, subcategories, regression in machine learning, classification in machine learning, clustering in machine learning, dimensionality reduction in machine learning, their use cases, and the advantages, and disadvantages of different types of Machine learning. In the next module, we will be discussing different aspects related to datasets for Machine Learning. See you there.