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What Is Machine Learning? Definition, Types


Machine Learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence that employs statistical models to make predictions. It has traditionally stood defined as a computer’s ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. It remains frequently described as a type of predictive modeling or predictive analytics.

In basic technical terms, machine learning uses algorithms that take empirical or historical data, analyze it, and generate outputs based on that analysis. In some approaches, the algorithms work with so-called “training data” first and then learn, predict, and find ways to improve their performance over time.

Machine Learning and AI in Finance

Machine Learning Types

AI and machine learning are both of interest in financial markets and have impacted the evolution of quant finance in particular.

CQF Institute presentation

Samit Ahlawat of JP Morgan Chase explained in ‘Reinforcement Learning and Hidden Markov Model Based Smart Trading Strategies. Traditional trading strategies remain based on static rules that may not hold across all market conditions due to complex correlations between market variables, which can confound such trading rules.

However, the parameters of these rules can remain recalibrated to adapt to changing market conditions. However, timing is critical, and the frequency of recalibration is either delegated to other regulations or left to expert human judgment. According to Samit, artificial intelligence and machine learning are promising tools for addressing this flaw in static or semi-static trading strategies.

Types of Machine Learning

Machine learning remains divided into three approaches: supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning. Each process has distinct advantages and disadvantages, and some techniques are better suited to specific types of problems than others. Hybrid systems, such as semi-supervised learning, can remain tailored to the situation.

Supervised Learning

The computer remains trained using a set of data inputs and outputs to learn a general rule that maps the given information to the given results. There are two types of supervised learning: classification and reinforcement learning.

Unsupervised Learning

The learning algorithm remains not to give this type of direction; instead, it works independently to discover the pattern or structure in the input. Unsupervised learning remains classified into two types: clustering (discovering groups within a dataset that share similar characteristics) and density estimation (evaluating the statistical distribution of the data set). Unsupervised learning methods also include data visualization and projection, which reduces the data dimensions, a type of simplification.

Application Examples of Machine Learning

Machine learning remains used in the financial markets for investors’ automation, portfolio optimization, risk management, and financial advisory services (Robo-advisors).

Human traders will create mathematical models that analyze financial news and trading activities to identify market trends such as volume, volatility, and potential anomalies for algorithmic trading. Once the system is up and running, these models will execute trades based on predefined instructions, allowing for activity without direct human intervention.

Machine learning techniques can aid portfolio optimization by analyzing large amounts of data, identifying patterns, and solving risk and reward problems. ML can also help in the detection of investment signals and the forecasting of time series.

Machine learning can help with credit decisions and detect suspicious transactions or behavior, including KYC compliance efforts and fraud prevention.

Machine learning has aided the shift towards robot advisors for some types of retail investors, assisting them with their investment and savings goals.

The CQF and Machine Learning in Quantitative Finance

Machine learning is a growing field of interest for financial firms, and there is a high demand for professionals who understand data science and programming techniques. The Certificate in Quantitative Finance (CQF) provides a thorough understanding of the mathematics and financial knowledge required for a career in quant finance. Furthermore, in Modules 4 and 5, the program delves deeply into machine learning techniques used in quant finance.

The CQF program is rigorous and practical for those interested in gaining valuable machine learning skills related to quant finance, with outstanding resources and flexibility for delegates worldwide. Download a brochure today to learn more about how the CQF can help you.


Finally, you researched various development languages, IDEs, and platforms when creating your machine learning models. The next step is to begin learning and practicing each machine learning technique. The subject is vast, which means it has width, but when it comes to depth, each topic can remain learned in a few hours. Each case is distinct from the others. You must consider one subject at a time, understand it, practice it, and implement the algorithm/s in it using a language of your choice. It is the most effective way to begin studying Machine Learning. Focusing on one topic at a time will quickly gain the breadth you require.

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