Demystifying Machine Learning and Deep Learning

Aug 19, 2023

Blog post title: Demystifying Machine Learning and Deep Learning"

In our Beginner's Guide To AI, we explored the basic difference between machine learning and deep learning. Now we'll dive deeper into a key distinction - how machine learning relies on manual feature engineering versus deep learning's automated feature learning capabilities. This evolution from human-engineered features to algorithms extracting their own features has driven major advances in computer vision, natural language processing, and more. In this post, we’ll provide examples across domains, discuss challenges and benefits, and reveal how the two approaches complement each other. Both novice AI enthusiasts and experienced practitioners will discover new perspectives. To help you we’ve labeled the portions that represent more Intermediate and Advanced information. 

Overview of ML

In early machine learning (ML) approaches, human intuition and expertise were crucial for identifying and selecting informative features to feed into algorithms. For a spam detection model, an engineer would manually review emails to pick out commonly occurring words or phrases that seemed indicative of spam. These selected text features like specific URLs, dollar amounts, or urgent language would then be extracted and compiled as the input dataset to train the machine learning model.

The model could then statistically learn to weigh the importance of each feature the humans highlighted. But the algorithms themselves did not determine which features were relevant - the human engineer acted as the curator. This manual curation of features required substantial upfront effort and domain expertise to extract meaningful signals from raw data. While successful, it limited the flexibility and scalability of machine learning. New data or use cases would necessitate repeating the manual feature engineering process.

You can see how Classic machine learning techniques relied on humans to manually identify and select informative attributes or variables from the data that were fed into the algorithms. Let’s look how this has evolved for image and text. 

Machine Learning and Deep Learning in Image and Text Recognition

For image recognition, a human engineer would pick out pixel color values, edges, shapes, etc. as features to train the model.

In contrast, deep learning (DL) algorithms are able to automatically learn abstract feature representations directly from the raw data, without requiring human selection of features.  Deep learning models can learn to detect eyes, noses, etc. when analyzing image pixels, versus being told what features to look for.

In text data the concepts apply this way. With classic machine learning, a human engineer would need to manually extract key text features to train a model. For example, for sentiment analysis they might provide word counts for positive and negative terms as inputs.

A deep learning model could automatically learn to detect sentiment by extracting abstract features from the raw text data on its own. Therefore, it may learn certain combinations of words associated with positive or negative sentiment.

In summary, machine learning relies on humans to list informative features as inputs, while deep learning learns its own features automatically from the data itself. The key thing to remember is - While it's possible to use ML and DL together, they represent fundamentally different approaches.


Intermediate: 

Early machine learning approaches relied heavily on algorithms like decision trees, logistic regression, and naive Bayes classifiers. These analytical models were trained on datasets of human-engineered features. For example, a logistic regression spam filter would be fed word frequencies and text patterns selected by engineers as informative for identifying spam. The logistic regression equations would assign weights to these input features to categorize messages as spam or not based on probabilistic correlations.

However, modern deep learning systems are not based on decision trees, regression, or naive Bayes. Deep learning uses neural networks that process data through many layers to automatically extract feature representations, rather than relying on human/predefined feature sets. For instance, a deep learning model trains on raw text data, learning underlying word embeddings without feature engineering. While decision trees and naive Bayes drove early ML progress, deep neural networks now dominate for advanced feature learning. But classical and modern techniques can still be combined effectively.

So in summary, decision trees, logistic regression, and naive Bayes were pivotal in early machine learning but have largely been superseded by deep neural networks in modern deep learning. 

Advanced

Classical machine learning approaches like logistic regression operate by optimizing convex loss functions, yielding clear mathematical insights into the model. In contrast, deep learning relies on non-convex optimization and backpropagation techniques to train deep neural networks. This allows more flexible feature learning but lacks the transparency of convex classical ML. Overall, the non-convexity of deep learning objective functions enables greater representation power but reduces interpretability.

Benefits and Challenges of Manual Feature Engineering (ML) vs Automated Feature Learning (DL)

At a basic level, manual feature engineering enabled early progress in machine learning by allowing human experts to guide the algorithms. However, this approach also had downsides of being labor intensive and limited in flexibility. In contrast, automated feature learning is more scalable but can lack transparency.

Intermediate

Looking deeper, engineering informative features requires substantial data analysis effort and domain knowledge. But it provides full visibility into what the model considers important. On the other hand, automated feature extraction does not depend on upfront human work. But the learned representations offer less interpretability.

Advanced

Taking a more technical view, manual feature selection allows for intuitive correlations between inputs and outputs. But it risks omitting useful unforeseen signals in the data. Meanwhile, deep learning discovers intricate feature relationships automatically. However, its complexity obscures how decisions are made.

From an advanced perspective, engineered features constrain the hypothesis space, avoiding overfitting. Though this bounds model performance. In comparison, learned representations capture nuanced latent features unlimited by human imagination. Yet the highly flexible neural networks demand careful regularization to prevent overfitting.

How Manual Feature Engineering and Automated Feature Learning can Complement each other  

While manual and automated feature approaches have tradeoffs, they can be combined in a complementary fashion. For example, engineers could analyze a dataset, identify some informative base features to extract, then feed those into a deep learning model for further enrichment. This provides a starting point while still allowing flexible feature learning. Additionally, engineered features may capture broad relationships easily understood by humans, while learned features detect intricate nonlinear patterns. Blending hand-crafted features with deep representations enables intuition and performance. The two approaches have distinct strengths - using them together can enhance machine learning pipelines.

Looking further into how manual feature engineering and automated feature learning can be complementary:

In an image classification task, a machine learning engineer could first manually identify some basic pixel features like color histograms, edge detectors, shape filters that are intuitive for humans to extract. Then those hand-picked visual features could be fed into a deep learning model, providing it a head start on meaningful patterns before the neural network layers enrich the features further through hierarchical layers of abstraction. So the engineer gives the model a boost by expressing some human knowledge, while the deep learning model enhances that with automatic feature enhancement. Together they combine the benefits of human guidance and learned representations.

Intermediate

Ensemble models that blend decision trees or logistic regression trained on engineered features with deep neural networks can improve overall accuracy. Architectures like Wide and Deep leverage shallow ML models for memorization along with deep layers for generalization.

Advanced

Manually constructed features based on domain expertise aid interpretability and can regularize deep models by incorporating beneficial human biases. Meanwhile, deep representations capture intricate nonlinear interactions and hierarchical abstractions unattainable manually. Ensembling simplifies optimization while enriching representational capacity.

Future outlook on increasingly automated feature learning

Looking ahead, deep learning is likely to continue displacing manual feature engineering in many domains. As computational power grows, deep neural networks will be able to extract features from raw data at massive scale across text, image, audio, and more. This will reduce reliance on human feature curation. However, oversight and guidance will remain important.

Progress will also enable more customizable feature extraction tailored to specific tasks and datasets. Architectures like Transformer networks are already demonstrating automated adaptation of feature learning across domains like language, vision and time series data. Continued advances will lessen the need for hand-crafted inputs.

Intermediate

From a technical point of view, transfer learning techniques allow deep models pre-trained on large datasets to be fine-tuned for new use cases with minimal feature adaptation. Meta-learning methods even allow networks to infer specialized features for individual tasks with very little data. These developments point towards increasingly automated, generalizable feature learning.

Advanced

Cutting-edge techniques on the horizon like generative adversarial networks, neuro-evolution and neural architecture search promise to make feature representation fully adaptive and customizable. Such innovations could enable AI systems to construct and refine the best features and architectures for any problem. This points toward a future mostly free of human intervention in feature engineering.

In summary, while (human) engineered inputs paved the way for early progress, automated feature learning is rapidly accelerating and promising to minimize the need for human curation going forward. Because of this, we always have to recall that oversight will be critical. Here at Synthminds, we’re excited to read about the how continued research is unlocking more flexible automated feature capabilities. And we’ll be sharing more with you about it as we read it!


Takeaways

Overview
  • Classic ML relied on humans engineering features like keyword counts for text or pixel color values and shapes for images


Benefits & Challenges
  • A major benefit of manual feature engineering is increased model interpretability because humans can understand the selected inputs. However, it is very time and labor intensive.

  • A key advantage of automated feature learning is scalability and flexibility since deep learning analyzes raw data directly. However, the learned representations are complex black boxes.


ML and DL in Image & Text Recognition
  • Classic ML for images requires humans to manually select pixel features like color, edges, shapes to train the model.

  • For text, engineers must pick features like word frequencies and positive/negative terms.

  • Deep learning models instead directly analyze raw image pixel and text data to automatically identify patterns and features.


Complementary Strengths of Manual and Automatic Feature Engineering
  • Engineered features provide explainability, while learned features detect hidden relationships.

  • Blending hand-crafted features with deep neural representations enables both model interpretability and strong performance.

  • In images, engineered pixel features could provide a starting point, then deep learning further enriches features.

  • Fusing classical ML and deep learning combines the strengths of human guidance and automated feature learning.

TLDR

Introduction: This article provides an in-depth look at how machine learning historically relied on manual feature engineering, while deep learning can automatically learn feature representations from raw data.

ML Overview: Classic machine learning required human experts to manually select informative attributes and variables as inputs for algorithms. This was time-consuming but provided transparency.

DL Overview: Deep learning leverages neural networks to directly analyze raw image pixel and text data to identify patterns and extract abstract feature representations on its own without human intervention.

ML & DL in Image & Text Recognition: For images, ML needs humans to pick features like pixel values and shapes during model training, whereas DL can automatically learn to detect edges, faces, and objects. For text, ML relies on engineers selecting indicative keywords and word frequencies, while DL learns latent patterns like sentiment.

Benefits & Challenges of Manual and Automatic Feature Engineering: Key benefits of manual feature engineering include interpretability and avoidance of overfitting, while challenges include labor intensity and omitting potentially useful signals. DL provides scalability but suffers from black box opacity.

Complementary Strengths of Manual and Automatic Feature Engineering: Blending engineered features for explainability with deep learning’s latent feature detection combines the strengths of human guidance and automated learning.

Future Outlook: The scalability and flexibility of deep learning will continue accelerating the automation of feature engineering, though oversight and evaluation remains critical.

Conclusion: The evolution from reliance on manual feature engineering to automated feature learning has unlocked huge advances in computer vision, NLP, and beyond.











In our Beginner's Guide To AI, we explored the basic difference between machine learning and deep learning. Now we'll dive deeper into a key distinction - how machine learning relies on manual feature engineering versus deep learning's automated feature learning capabilities. This evolution from human-engineered features to algorithms extracting their own features has driven major advances in computer vision, natural language processing, and more. In this post, we’ll provide examples across domains, discuss challenges and benefits, and reveal how the two approaches complement each other. Both novice AI enthusiasts and experienced practitioners will discover new perspectives. To help you we’ve labeled the portions that represent more Intermediate and Advanced information. 

Overview of ML

In early machine learning (ML) approaches, human intuition and expertise were crucial for identifying and selecting informative features to feed into algorithms. For a spam detection model, an engineer would manually review emails to pick out commonly occurring words or phrases that seemed indicative of spam. These selected text features like specific URLs, dollar amounts, or urgent language would then be extracted and compiled as the input dataset to train the machine learning model.

The model could then statistically learn to weigh the importance of each feature the humans highlighted. But the algorithms themselves did not determine which features were relevant - the human engineer acted as the curator. This manual curation of features required substantial upfront effort and domain expertise to extract meaningful signals from raw data. While successful, it limited the flexibility and scalability of machine learning. New data or use cases would necessitate repeating the manual feature engineering process.

You can see how Classic machine learning techniques relied on humans to manually identify and select informative attributes or variables from the data that were fed into the algorithms. Let’s look how this has evolved for image and text. 

Machine Learning and Deep Learning in Image and Text Recognition

For image recognition, a human engineer would pick out pixel color values, edges, shapes, etc. as features to train the model.

In contrast, deep learning (DL) algorithms are able to automatically learn abstract feature representations directly from the raw data, without requiring human selection of features.  Deep learning models can learn to detect eyes, noses, etc. when analyzing image pixels, versus being told what features to look for.

In text data the concepts apply this way. With classic machine learning, a human engineer would need to manually extract key text features to train a model. For example, for sentiment analysis they might provide word counts for positive and negative terms as inputs.

A deep learning model could automatically learn to detect sentiment by extracting abstract features from the raw text data on its own. Therefore, it may learn certain combinations of words associated with positive or negative sentiment.

In summary, machine learning relies on humans to list informative features as inputs, while deep learning learns its own features automatically from the data itself. The key thing to remember is - While it's possible to use ML and DL together, they represent fundamentally different approaches.


Intermediate: 

Early machine learning approaches relied heavily on algorithms like decision trees, logistic regression, and naive Bayes classifiers. These analytical models were trained on datasets of human-engineered features. For example, a logistic regression spam filter would be fed word frequencies and text patterns selected by engineers as informative for identifying spam. The logistic regression equations would assign weights to these input features to categorize messages as spam or not based on probabilistic correlations.

However, modern deep learning systems are not based on decision trees, regression, or naive Bayes. Deep learning uses neural networks that process data through many layers to automatically extract feature representations, rather than relying on human/predefined feature sets. For instance, a deep learning model trains on raw text data, learning underlying word embeddings without feature engineering. While decision trees and naive Bayes drove early ML progress, deep neural networks now dominate for advanced feature learning. But classical and modern techniques can still be combined effectively.

So in summary, decision trees, logistic regression, and naive Bayes were pivotal in early machine learning but have largely been superseded by deep neural networks in modern deep learning. 

Advanced

Classical machine learning approaches like logistic regression operate by optimizing convex loss functions, yielding clear mathematical insights into the model. In contrast, deep learning relies on non-convex optimization and backpropagation techniques to train deep neural networks. This allows more flexible feature learning but lacks the transparency of convex classical ML. Overall, the non-convexity of deep learning objective functions enables greater representation power but reduces interpretability.

Benefits and Challenges of Manual Feature Engineering (ML) vs Automated Feature Learning (DL)

At a basic level, manual feature engineering enabled early progress in machine learning by allowing human experts to guide the algorithms. However, this approach also had downsides of being labor intensive and limited in flexibility. In contrast, automated feature learning is more scalable but can lack transparency.

Intermediate

Looking deeper, engineering informative features requires substantial data analysis effort and domain knowledge. But it provides full visibility into what the model considers important. On the other hand, automated feature extraction does not depend on upfront human work. But the learned representations offer less interpretability.

Advanced

Taking a more technical view, manual feature selection allows for intuitive correlations between inputs and outputs. But it risks omitting useful unforeseen signals in the data. Meanwhile, deep learning discovers intricate feature relationships automatically. However, its complexity obscures how decisions are made.

From an advanced perspective, engineered features constrain the hypothesis space, avoiding overfitting. Though this bounds model performance. In comparison, learned representations capture nuanced latent features unlimited by human imagination. Yet the highly flexible neural networks demand careful regularization to prevent overfitting.

How Manual Feature Engineering and Automated Feature Learning can Complement each other  

While manual and automated feature approaches have tradeoffs, they can be combined in a complementary fashion. For example, engineers could analyze a dataset, identify some informative base features to extract, then feed those into a deep learning model for further enrichment. This provides a starting point while still allowing flexible feature learning. Additionally, engineered features may capture broad relationships easily understood by humans, while learned features detect intricate nonlinear patterns. Blending hand-crafted features with deep representations enables intuition and performance. The two approaches have distinct strengths - using them together can enhance machine learning pipelines.

Looking further into how manual feature engineering and automated feature learning can be complementary:

In an image classification task, a machine learning engineer could first manually identify some basic pixel features like color histograms, edge detectors, shape filters that are intuitive for humans to extract. Then those hand-picked visual features could be fed into a deep learning model, providing it a head start on meaningful patterns before the neural network layers enrich the features further through hierarchical layers of abstraction. So the engineer gives the model a boost by expressing some human knowledge, while the deep learning model enhances that with automatic feature enhancement. Together they combine the benefits of human guidance and learned representations.

Intermediate

Ensemble models that blend decision trees or logistic regression trained on engineered features with deep neural networks can improve overall accuracy. Architectures like Wide and Deep leverage shallow ML models for memorization along with deep layers for generalization.

Advanced

Manually constructed features based on domain expertise aid interpretability and can regularize deep models by incorporating beneficial human biases. Meanwhile, deep representations capture intricate nonlinear interactions and hierarchical abstractions unattainable manually. Ensembling simplifies optimization while enriching representational capacity.

Future outlook on increasingly automated feature learning

Looking ahead, deep learning is likely to continue displacing manual feature engineering in many domains. As computational power grows, deep neural networks will be able to extract features from raw data at massive scale across text, image, audio, and more. This will reduce reliance on human feature curation. However, oversight and guidance will remain important.

Progress will also enable more customizable feature extraction tailored to specific tasks and datasets. Architectures like Transformer networks are already demonstrating automated adaptation of feature learning across domains like language, vision and time series data. Continued advances will lessen the need for hand-crafted inputs.

Intermediate

From a technical point of view, transfer learning techniques allow deep models pre-trained on large datasets to be fine-tuned for new use cases with minimal feature adaptation. Meta-learning methods even allow networks to infer specialized features for individual tasks with very little data. These developments point towards increasingly automated, generalizable feature learning.

Advanced

Cutting-edge techniques on the horizon like generative adversarial networks, neuro-evolution and neural architecture search promise to make feature representation fully adaptive and customizable. Such innovations could enable AI systems to construct and refine the best features and architectures for any problem. This points toward a future mostly free of human intervention in feature engineering.

In summary, while (human) engineered inputs paved the way for early progress, automated feature learning is rapidly accelerating and promising to minimize the need for human curation going forward. Because of this, we always have to recall that oversight will be critical. Here at Synthminds, we’re excited to read about the how continued research is unlocking more flexible automated feature capabilities. And we’ll be sharing more with you about it as we read it!


Takeaways

Overview
  • Classic ML relied on humans engineering features like keyword counts for text or pixel color values and shapes for images


Benefits & Challenges
  • A major benefit of manual feature engineering is increased model interpretability because humans can understand the selected inputs. However, it is very time and labor intensive.

  • A key advantage of automated feature learning is scalability and flexibility since deep learning analyzes raw data directly. However, the learned representations are complex black boxes.


ML and DL in Image & Text Recognition
  • Classic ML for images requires humans to manually select pixel features like color, edges, shapes to train the model.

  • For text, engineers must pick features like word frequencies and positive/negative terms.

  • Deep learning models instead directly analyze raw image pixel and text data to automatically identify patterns and features.


Complementary Strengths of Manual and Automatic Feature Engineering
  • Engineered features provide explainability, while learned features detect hidden relationships.

  • Blending hand-crafted features with deep neural representations enables both model interpretability and strong performance.

  • In images, engineered pixel features could provide a starting point, then deep learning further enriches features.

  • Fusing classical ML and deep learning combines the strengths of human guidance and automated feature learning.

TLDR

Introduction: This article provides an in-depth look at how machine learning historically relied on manual feature engineering, while deep learning can automatically learn feature representations from raw data.

ML Overview: Classic machine learning required human experts to manually select informative attributes and variables as inputs for algorithms. This was time-consuming but provided transparency.

DL Overview: Deep learning leverages neural networks to directly analyze raw image pixel and text data to identify patterns and extract abstract feature representations on its own without human intervention.

ML & DL in Image & Text Recognition: For images, ML needs humans to pick features like pixel values and shapes during model training, whereas DL can automatically learn to detect edges, faces, and objects. For text, ML relies on engineers selecting indicative keywords and word frequencies, while DL learns latent patterns like sentiment.

Benefits & Challenges of Manual and Automatic Feature Engineering: Key benefits of manual feature engineering include interpretability and avoidance of overfitting, while challenges include labor intensity and omitting potentially useful signals. DL provides scalability but suffers from black box opacity.

Complementary Strengths of Manual and Automatic Feature Engineering: Blending engineered features for explainability with deep learning’s latent feature detection combines the strengths of human guidance and automated learning.

Future Outlook: The scalability and flexibility of deep learning will continue accelerating the automation of feature engineering, though oversight and evaluation remains critical.

Conclusion: The evolution from reliance on manual feature engineering to automated feature learning has unlocked huge advances in computer vision, NLP, and beyond.