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Math major who has an interest in machine learning

  1. Dec 30, 2014 #1
    I'm a second year student and I've been researching about machine learning. I'd like to start learning more, and I'm wondering if someone could advise me on the appropriate modules to take which would help me in this goal. List of modules: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/maths/courses/undergraduates/

    For year 2 I have taken:
    Analysis 3
    Algebra 3
    Mathematical Methods 3
    Fluid Mechanics

    and I have a choice of four modules, I have chose:
    Analysis 4
    Algebra 4
    Probability and statistics
    Computational Methods

    I do not know a lot of programming so I am hoping with self learning and the computational methods course I will learn more. I am asking if my choice of four modules is appropriate, and what should I look at choosing for years 3 and 4?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    What is "Machine Learning"? Sorry, I'm not familiar with that term.
  4. Dec 30, 2014 #3


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    Science Advisor

    Machine learning involves solving problems like speech recognition, or getting machines to explore an environment to find an object. Speech recognition involves fitting hidden markov models, so can be seen as a branch of statistics, while the exploration task is sometimes approached via reinforcement learning, so it can be seen as a branch of control theory. Here is a recent paper about getting the machine to play Atari (an old task): http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.5602. Some standard texts are

    Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning
    Christopher Bishop

    Machine Learning: A Probabilistic Perspective
    Kevin Murphy
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  5. Dec 31, 2014 #4
    Anyone have any advice?
  6. Dec 31, 2014 #5


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    Education Advisor

    They look like good courses for a future study into machine learning. For future courses, just focus more on statistics, simulations, and numerical analysis. Statistics because it's hard to get into ML without knowing something about testing. Simulations because it's a good introduction on how to apply statistical techniques. Numerical analysis because it's important to understand convergences and the different problems that arise with algorithms.
  7. Dec 31, 2014 #6
    Would the pure mathematics modules be of any use also? I'm very interested in analysis and would like to study it further in my degree.
  8. Dec 31, 2014 #7


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    Education Advisor

    Naturally, Analysis is useful, if for no other reason is that is a course that teaches a lot of the same techniques for proofs you'll need a higher level maths. Plus, in most advance statistics courses, you'll view probability in terms of a measure, so it's helpful to understand a measure. As for the Algebra 4, I never really had a use for rings or groups in my work. However, it's my personal opinion that it's interesting and that's often a good enough reason to study anything.
  9. Dec 31, 2014 #8
    Thank you for the reply, may I ask - what type of work do you do?
  10. Dec 31, 2014 #9


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    Education Advisor

    I work for a telecommunication company making predictive models on customer behaviors. It sounds uninteresting on the surface, but the intersect of mathematics and computer science is a happy spot for me. I've also done work about predictive texting. That was fun :).
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