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Being new to machine-learning in general, I'd like to start playing around and see what the possibilities are.

I'm curious as to what applications you might recommend that would offer the fastest time from installation to producing a meaningful result.

Also, any recommendations for good getting-started materials on the subject of machine-learning in general would be appreciated.

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9 Answers 9

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I would recommend to start with some MOOC on machine learning. For example Andrew Ng's course at coursera.

You should also take a look at Orange application. It has a graphical interface and probably it is easier to understand some ML techniques using it.

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+1 For Andrew Ng's course. It is very well done. –  TylerAndFriends Jun 10 at 15:12
John Hopkins also has a data science certificate track (9 classes) that started last week at Coursera. coursera.org/specialization/jhudatascience/… - it's not all machine learning, but worth sharing. Coursera is full of awesomeness (and Andrew Ng is a great lecturer). –  Steve Kallestad Jun 11 at 20:49

To be honest, I think that doing some projects will teach you much more than doing a full course. One reason is that doing a project is more motivating and open-ended than doing assignments.

A course, if you have the time AND motivation (real motivation), is better than doing a project. The other commentators have made good platform recommendations on tech.

I think, from a fun project standpoint, you should ask a question and get a computer to learn to answer it.

Some good classic questions that have good examples are:

  • Neural Networks for recognizing hand written digits
  • Spam email classification using logistic regression
  • Classification of objects using Gaussian Mixture models
  • Some use of linear regression, perhaps forecasting of grocery prices given neighborhoods

These projects have the math done, code done, and can be found with Google readily.

Other cool subjects can be done by you!

Lastly, I research robotics, so for me the most FUN applications are behavioral. Examples can include (if you can play with an arduino)

Create a application, that uses logistic regression perhaps, that learns when to turn the fan off and on given the inner temperature, and the status of the light in the room.

Create an application that teaches a robot to move an actuator, perhaps a wheel, based on sensor input (perhaps a button press), using Gaussian Mixture Models (learning from demonstration).

Anyway, those are pretty advanced. The point I'm making is that if you pick a project that you (really really) like, and spend a few week on it, you will learn a massive amount, and understand so much more than you will get doing a few assignments.

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I think Weka is a good starting point. You can do a bunch of stuff like supervised learning or clustering and easily compare a large set of algorithms na methodologies.

Weka's manual is actually a book on machine learning and data mining that can be used as introductory material.

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Assuming you're familiar with programming I would recommend looking at scikit-learn. It has especially nice help pages that can serve as mini-tutorials/a quick tour through machine learning. Pick an area you find interesting and work through the examples.

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I found the pluralsight course Introduction to machine learning encog a great resource so start with. It uses the Encog library to quickly explore different ml techniques.

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If you already know R Studio, then the caret package is a good place to start. Here are some tutorials:

  1. https://class.coursera.org/predmachlearn-002
  2. http://caret.r-forge.r-project.org/index.html

With R and caret you can easily load and splice data sets, feature reduction, principal component analysis, and train and predict using various algorithms.

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If you can reproduce the 6x3 grid of graphs from the banner of the http://scikit-learn.org/ page then you will have learnt some ML and some Python. You didn't mention a language. Python is easy enough to learn very quickly, and scikit-learn has a wide range of algorithms implemented.

Then try on your own data!

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In addition to the courses and tutorials posted, I would suggest something a bit more 'hands on': Kaggle has some introductory competitions that might pique your interest (most people start with the Titanic competition). And there's a large variety of subjects to explore and compete in when you want to get more experience.

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As mentioned in above answers grasp the basics of ML by following MOOCs by Prof.Andrew Ng and 'Learning From Data' by Prof. Yaser Abu-Mostafa.

R is the clear winner as the most used tool in Kaggle competitions. (Don't forget to check the resources on Kaggle wiki and forums)

Learn basic R and Python. Coursera 'Data Science' track has an introductory R course. Almost all the algorithms can be found in Python and R libraries. Feel free to use the algorithms you learned in few kaggle competitions. As a starting point compare the performance of several algorithms on Titanic dataset and Digit recognizer dataset on kaggle.

And do continue practising on various datasets!

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