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Category: Machine Learning

Machine Learning – Stanford -Week 8 – Clustering and PCA

Clustering – K-means algorithm

Continuing with Andrew Ng’s course and finally finished week 8 and delivered homework before deadline. So here again just to note some key points.


Basically speaking the K-means method is very simple and strait forward, one only need to repeat 1. assigning all samples to one of the closest centroids; 2. move centroids to the middle of those assigned samples. However the implementation is a little tricky to make correct due to the indexing.


And it is worth to mention that not only well separated clusters, but also a group of connected well (or non-separated clusters) can be also clustered via K-means method. This can be particularly useful, for example, a T-shirt company would like to only make S, M and L size of T-shirt for all people with different height and weight.1.Unsupervised.1.K-Means.2



And here is a Pop-quiz:1.Unsupervised.1.K-Means.4.OptimizationObjective.q11.Unsupervised.1.K-Means.4.OptimizationObjective.q2


More about random initialization


We could imagine that, when k is relatively small (for example k in range of 2 to 10), there is a big chance that the random initialization will put some centroids very close to each other in the beginning and result in some local optima.

The way to solve this issue is also very simple – do clustering (with random initialization) multiple times and then select the centroid group with the lowest cost.


Choosing the value of K

Another question is how should we choose or decide how many clusters should there be for our data. Andrew suggested two method:

  1. Elbow method, which is running the K from 1 to many and if we could see a clear “elbow” shape of cost curve, we can choose the K of that elbow point.
  2. Based on practical or business/application specification.



Okay, so here are some pop quiz for K-means clustering:



And here I would like to add a image compression result made from the homework result – so for this example we used K-means clustering to cluster all pixels of a image with only 8 colors, and the original image is in RGB color of 256 colors. With K=8 we could use the algorithm to cluster all pixels with similar colors into one of the 8 colors. Notably that the value of the 8 colors are not pre-defined, they will gradually become some of the major colors on the picture (while the “moving centroids step” in the k-means algorithm). After the clustering is done, we can simply do the compression by finding the nearest centroid of every pixel and then assign that pixel of that color of centroid. Since we only have 8 colors, a 3 bit storage room for each pixel will be enough, while the 8 centroids are holding a RGB color each as the “cluster center” color 🙂result


Principal Component Analysis – PCA

The motivation of principal component analysis is mainly about data compression – for example, how to casting a high dimension data down to a lower dimension space. This will help saving space of data storage, also improving certain algorithm speed, and also to help visualization since a data more than 3D, 4D will become impossible to be visualized directly.

So the so-called Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is just a method of reduce high dimension data to lower dimension data.2.Unsupervised.2.PrincipalComponnentAnalysis(PCA).1

One thing we should notice is that even though it looks similar, but PCA and linear regression are two different algorithms and the goal is also totally not the same. For linear regress we have a value y we would like to predict, however for PCA all data are treated the same, there is no special label value.2.Unsupervised.2.PrincipalComponnentAnalysis(PCA).2

PCA – How to

As Andrew mentioned, the mathematical proof of the following way of doing PCA is very difficult and also beyond the scope of the course, so here we just need to know how to use it instead. It turned out to just do a dimension reduction is actually very simple. Two lines of matlab code would be enough. The key is to utilize some build in “svd” function.


And a summary of the stuff above:2.Unsupervised.2.PrincipalComponnentAnalysis(PCA).5


Again, here a pop quiz






How to choose which level of dimension k we can reduce to?


Another quiz:2.Unsupervised.2.PrincipalComponnentAnalysis(PCA).7.chooseK.4



PCA – What can I use if for?



And some final pop quiz for under standing the topic better:


Machine Learning – Stanford -Week 4 – Neural Networks: Representation


The following content from edX course Machine Learning taught by Andrew Ng.

Introduction to Neural Networks

Welcome to week 4! This week, we are covering neural networks. Neural networks is a model inspired by how the brain works. It was very widely used in 80s and early 90s; popularity diminished in late 90s (computationally expensive).

Recent resurgence: State-of-the-art technique for many applications. It is widely used today in many applications: when your phone interprets and understand your voice commands, it is likely that a neural network is helping to understand your speech; when you cash a check, the machines that automatically read the digits also use neural networks.


Why we need a new algorithm?



Feature “explosion” for logistic regression. Neural network will hopefully help solving this issue.

The “one learning algorithm” hypothesis


How it can solve complex non-linear problem2.neurons.42.neurons.5

Key point

If network has s_j units in layer j, s_{j+1} units in layer j+1, then \Theta^{(j)} will be of dimension s_{j+1} \times (s_j + 1)

This is very important to know or memorize later on for doing vectorized implementation. Or see pop quiz below.



Non-linear classification example



Multiple output units: One-vs-all



Pop Quiz



Machine Learning – Stanford -Week 3 – Overfitting and Regularization

The following content is from Coursera Machine Learning course, taught by Andrwe Ng.





overfitting3overfitting4 - regularization1overfitting4 - regularization2


Gradient descent with regularizationoverfitting4 - regularization3overfitting4 - regularization4overfitting4 - regularization5

Regularization makes the matrix always invertable.overfitting4 - regularization6

Pop Quiz

overfitting4 - regularization-q1overfitting4 - regularization-q2overfitting4 - regularization-q3

Spark Essentials

Quick notes on some basic info about Spark, materials from BerkeleyX: CS190.1x Scalable Machine Learning on edX.

Why we may want to use Spark:


Resilient Distributed Dataset (RDD)

  • RDD cannot be changed after they are constructed
  • They can be created by transformations applied to existing RDDs
  • They enable parallel operations on collections of distributed data
  • They track lineage information to enable efficient recomputation of lost data


Some basic Spark concept: Transformations

1 - transformation2 - transformation

  • Transformations are not computed right away
  • Transformations are not vulnerable to machine failures
  • Transformation are like a recipe for creating a result


Some basic Spark concept: Actions

3 - action4. simple spark action example 15. simple spark action example 2

Property of Spark Actions:

  • They cause Spark to execute the recipe to transform the source data
  • They are the primary mechanism for getting results out of Spark
  • The results are returned to the driver


About Cashing RDD

If you plan to reuse an RDD, you should cache it, so that these RDD don’t have to be read again and again from hard-drive, instead they can be accessed from RAM.

6. spark action example 3(read data twice)7. spark action example 4(read data once with cache,fast)


Spark Programming Life-cycle

8. spark life cycle

Some key points about Spark Program Lifecycle:

  • RDDs that are reused may be cached
  • Transformations lazily create new RDDs
  • Transformations create recipes for peforming parallel computation on datasets
  • Actions cause parallel computation to be immediately executed


A few words about Key-Value Transformations9. spark key value operations10. spark key value operations. exp111. spark key value operations. exp2


PySpark Shared Variables:

In iterative or repeated computations, broadcast variables avoid the problem of repeatedly sending the same data to workers. Broadcast variables are an efficient way of sending data once that would otherwise be sent multiple times automatically in closures.

Accumulators can only be written by workers and read by the driver program.

Machine Learning – Stanford -Week 3 – Logistic Regression

Classification by regression

Great things learned again from Coursera Machine Learning course, taught by Andrwe Ng. Here are some of the key notes. Perhaps the first thing to notice here is that, even though the title of this article seems to be about regression, but it is actually a way of doing classification. So I think we could simply saying that “logistic regression” is a “classification” method.

How we got the idea?…(some background info)

If we follow from the previous linear regression course, we can naturally ask, can one use linear regression for Classification?

logistic regression model - choose para0

Answer is yes, like the simple example above where a hypothesis line is generated to do classification in a way that: if h larger than 0.5, predict class A, if h less than 0.5, predict class B.

However there are many limitations with this way. An apparent one is that when some cases appears, such as if a training sample appear on the far right of the graph (malignant tumor with very large size), the h function’s slop changes and will result in that some of other prediction to be wrong.

Logistic Function (or Sigmoid Function)

logistic regression model 1

In order to solve this, we can shape the hypothesis function h as a logistic function, defined as follow, where the value of h can only change between 0 and 1.

logistic regression model - choose para1

Cost Function

When using logistic function as the hypothesis, we have to change the format of cost function a bit. Because for the previous way of defining cost function, the cost function will have many “local minimum” introduced because using logistic function. And this won’t help the gradient descent algorithm to work properly. logistic regression model - choose para2

Thus, we can defined the following cost function, so that is will be come “convex” and “gradient descent friendly”.logistic regression model - choose para3logistic regression model - choose para4

And, lucky or mathematically, the above cost function can be defined or re-written in the math format as following:

logistic regression model - choose para5

So by now, we have fully defined a simple classification problem and a group of classification hypothesis and cost function are ready to use.

Gradient Descent

And here is what the gradient descent algorithm looks like for Logistic Regression.

logistic regression model - choose para6

And here is a MATLAB version of the implementation of the algorithm above:

function [J, grad] = costFunction(theta, X, y)
%COSTFUNCTION Compute cost and gradient for logistic regression
% J = COSTFUNCTION(theta, X, y) computes the cost of using theta as the
% parameter for logistic regression and the gradient of the cost
% w.r.t. to the parameters.

% Initialize some useful values
m = length(y); % number of training examples
h=sigmoid(X*theta); % m by 1

J = 1/m * ((-y')*log(h) - (1-y')*log(1-h)); % 1 by 1

grad = 1/m * X'*(h-y); % n by 1, gradient


Hypothesis Interpretation

And a few more words (or pictures) discuss the interpretation of the hypothesis function output – basically speaking, it output a probability measure.

logistic regression model 2logistic regression model 3

Decision Boundary

Continue the interpretation above, here we define the concept of “decision boundary” (which is a line for the case of 2 features):

logistic regression model 4

And it can be non-linear, high order as well:logistic regression model 5

Multi-class Classification

So for the case of more than 2 classes, one can use the so called “one-vs-all” (or “one – vs-rest”) method to finish the job.multi-class-1multi-class-2multi-class-3

A few more words about some other optimization algorithm (such as fminunc in Qctave):


Machine Learning – Stanford -Week 2 – Linear Regression

Great knowledge learned from the Couresra course – Machine Learning (Stanford) taught by Andrew Ng. Here is a short summary of Week 2 ‘s content.

Gradient Descent

Perhaps the most important algorithm for linear regression. And it is also very intuitively understandable. Basically speaking the whole idea is similarly like you drop a ball on a sloped curve or surface (cost function) and ball roll down the surface following the gradient so that in the end the ball will be at the lowest point of the surface. The “surface” metaphor is used here for the situation that the cost function has two variables – sometimes called the weight. The “weight” parameters in the lecture represent by \theta, and cost function is labeled as J.

Gradient Descent 1

So when the ball reaches the lowest point, the cost function J has the minimum value, which means if we use this group of weights to do prediction / regression, we get the best guess. And sometimes, for example in another Machine Learning course on Coursera (the one from University Washington), the cost function is referred as RSS – Residual Sum of Squares, which is more or less the same thing here as J.

The above cost function J can be calculated, for example in MATLAB code:

function J = computeCostMulti(X, y, theta)
%COMPUTECOSTMULTI Compute cost for linear regression with multiple variables
% J = COMPUTECOSTMULTI(X, y, theta) computes the cost of using theta as the
% parameter for linear regression to fit the data points in X and y

% Initialize some useful values
m = length(y); % number of training examples

J = 1/2/m * sum((X*theta-y).^2)


And the Gradient Descent algorithm is fairly simple, as described in the picture below, equation at upper right corner.

Gradient Descent 2

In MATLAB, it can be written a simple line of code, suppose X, y and theta are all in matrix format.

function [theta, J_history] = gradientDescentMulti(X, y, theta, alpha, num_iters)
%GRADIENTDESCENTMULTI Performs gradient descent to learn theta
% theta = GRADIENTDESCENTMULTI(x, y, theta, alpha, num_iters) updates theta by
% taking num_iters gradient steps with learning rate alpha

% Initialize some useful values
m = length(y); % number of training examples
J_history = zeros(num_iters, 1);

for iter = 1:num_iters

theta = theta - alpha/m*(X'*(X*theta - y));

% ============================================================
% Save the cost J in every iteration
J_history(iter) = computeCostMulti(X, y, theta);



Note that the sum in the equation is accomplished by matrix product operation in the code. Or, more precisely, if sample number is m and feature number is n then:

  • X is m by n+1 matrix
  • y is m by 1 matrix
  • theta is n+1 by 1 matrix
  • X*theta is m by 1 matrix
  • X’ is n+1 by m matrix

Tips on how to choose \alpha (alpha) – Learning Rate

Basically, one can start with 0.001 and make it larger by 3 times each time until the cost function may not converge. Then you may end up finding a fast and also converging alpha.

choose alpha 2

Here is pop quiz for getting the idea of the effect of different value of learning rate (or step length):

choose alpha

Feature Scaling

It’s also very important to notice about feature scaling when using gradient decent algorithm, especially when there are multiple features and some of them have very different scales. If those features are not scale or normalized, the algorithms may now work efficiently.

Feature scaling

One way to scale the features is called mean normalization, basically see pictures below.Mean normalization

Polynomial Regression

The powerful thing about gradient descent is that it is not just work for linear equations, it can be simple applied for any format of polynomial regression – one simply use higher orders of features as input features, illustrated below:

polynomial regression

One thing worth mention is that feature scaling will become fairly important in order to make the polynomial regression work, since a high order of feature will be scaled very differently than the low order  feature.

Another Method – Normal Equation

One can also choose to not using gradient decent and instead use normal equation method (called closed form solution on course from University of Washington.

The basic idea is that by setting the derivative of cost function equals zero then directly solve the equation to get values of weight parameters. One thing worth mention is that for normal equation method, feature scaling is not needed at all. However mathematically this method has the complexity of O(n^3), where n stands for feature number. Thus for a problem has many features, one should probably choose gradient descent rather than this normal equation method. More discussion on this below.

Normal Equation - Stanford1Normal Equation - Stanford2

Similar topic discussed in University of Washington course, with only two weight parameters – w0 and w1:

Normal Equation - UW

I didn’t verify but I guess the two equations from the two different lectures to calculate the weights by setting the derivative of cost function equals zero, are giving identical results, for the situation that the length of weight parameters are two.

Differences between Gradient Descent and Normal Equation

Or when to use Gradient Descent and when to use Normal Equation?

Answer is below:

Normal Equation vs Gradient Descent

Data Science and Machine Learning Essentials – Pop Quiz 1

The company Internet Movies, Inc. has found wide success in their streaming movie business. After many long and successful years of delivering content, they have decided to use machine learning to make their business even more successful. Luckily, they already possess a huge dataset that has grown over years and years of user activity – but they need your help to make sense of it! Answer the following questions

1. Let’s start with a simple case. Assume user Alice is a particularly good member and she makes sure to rate every movie she ever watches on the website. What machine learning approach would be better for the company to use for determining whether she would be interested in a new specific movie?

  • Supervised
  • Unsupervised


2. Bob, on the other hand, is not that much into ratings. He does watch a lot of movies, but never takes the time to rate them. For users like Bob, which of the following data can the company use to determine potential interest in a specific movie? Check all that apply.

  • Metadata of movies: actors, director, genre,etc.
  • Length of the movie
  • Popularity of the movie among other users
  • User login patterns


3. What machine learning approach should the company use for cases like Bob?

  • Supervised
  • Unsupervised


Now that the company has some idea about how to use the data, it’s time to design a classifier. Our classifier will be very simple: given a movie and a user, it will classify the movie as either “Good” or “Bad” for this user.

4. Assume all the users of the company have a very simple rule in their movie taste: they like it if Tom Cruise has the lead role. Any other data is mostly irrelevant. However, no one in the company knows about this fact. Which of the following clustering models might be able to detect this rule? Check all that apply.

  • Supervised (label: rating), with data: Director, language, genre
  • Supervised (label: rating), with data: Movie length, lead role, director
  • Unsupervised, with data: Lead role, genre, director
  • Unsupervised, with data: Number of ratings, lead role


5. Looking at the options they’re given, the board members choose to go with a supervised model with lead role as data. You become outraged. “How can you not include movie length? It’s incredibly important! Who watches a 3 hour long movie –” Your fellow data scientist interrupts you. “Yeah, I agree, but look at these initial results. You see, if we remove movie length, …” What can your colleague (correctly) say to convince you? Check all that apply.

  • “we can reduce inter-cluster dissimilarity.”
  • “we can reduce intra-cluster dissimilarity.”
  • “the model starts to work. It doesn’t work otherwise.”
  • “we can consume less memory, and the results look almost the same.”


1. Supervised

2. Choose:

  • Metadata of movies: actors, director, genre, etc.
  • Popularity of the movie among other users

Explanation:Length of the movie may or may not be considered. We are more likely to consider it if we consider very long movies or very short movies as well.

3. Unsupervised

4. Choose:

  • Supervised (label: rating), with data: Movie length, lead role, director
  • Unsupervised, with data: Lead role, movie length, rating

Explanation: For supervised learning, we already have ratings for each label. So for the data to differentiate between those with Tom Cruise or not, we must have the leading role as one of our features. For unsupervised learning, we must have the lead role as part of our data. In addition, we must have a way to know whether users like the movie or not, so we must also know the rating.

5. Choose:

  • “we can reduce intra-cluster dissimilarity.”
  • “we can consume less memory, and the results look almost the same.”

Explanation: Movie lengths are not sufficiently different between most movies in order to help us in making the clusters. Reducing intra-cluster dissimilarity is correct because having less features allows us to differentiate elements within a cluster from each other. Consuming less memory with similar results is correct because we do not need as much storage and will save money. The supervised learning model will work and has no limits on the number of features allowed.

Note: above content is from edX.