The Role of Data in Statistical Modeling and Machine Learning

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Oliver Schabenberger, EVP and CTO, SAS, on The difference between Statistical Modeling and Machine Learning:

We can… distinguish statistical modeling, classical machine learning and modern machine learning by the role of the data.

In statistical modeling, the data guide us to the selection of a stochastic model which serves as the abstraction for making probabilistic statements about questions of interest, such as hypotheses, predictions and forecasts.

In classical machine learning, the data drive the selection of the analytic technique to best perform the task at hand. The data trains the algorithms.

In modern machine learning, the data drive systems based on neural nets that self-determine the regularities in the data in order to learn a task. The process of training the neural network on the data learns the task. As someone put it, “The data does the programming.”