Data Science

What is Unsupervised Learning?

Posted in Data Science
What is Unsupervised Learning?

What is Unsupervised Learning?

The machine learning technique where you do not have to supervise the model is referred to as unsupervised learning. Alternatively, you just have to permit the model to work on its own to find information. It mostly faces the unlabelled data.

As compared to supervised learning, unsupervised learning algorithms allow you to do more complex processing tasks. Though, unsupervised learning can be more doubtful as compared with other natural learning methods.

Example of Unsupervised Machine Learning

Now let's have a look at a baby and its family dog.

She remembers and recognizes this dog. After a couple of weeks, a family friend brings their dog and give it the baby to play. The baby has not seen this dog before and hence is not familiar with it. The baby identifies many features (2 ears, eyes, walking on four legs), which are similar to her pet dog. Hence she interprets the new animal as a dog. This case is same as unsupervised learning, in which you are not trained but you grasp it from the data (in this we are referring the dog) was this being existed as supervised learning, the family friend would have informed the baby that it is a dog.

Benefits of Unsupervised Learning

Here are the foremost reasons for operating unsupervised learning:

  • All forms of unknown patterns can be found using the unsupervised machine.
  • With the help of unsupervised methods, you can find features that are useful for the categorization purpose.
  • It is taken in place problem -solving time, hence all of the input data which is to be analyzed and labelled in the appearance of learners.
  • It is simple to get unlabelled data from a computer as compared to labelled data, which requires manual intervention.

Various Types of Unsupervised Learning

The problems of unsupervised learning are grouped into clustering and association problems.

1. Clustering

When it comes to unsupervised learning, clustering is considered an important concept. Its main work is to deal with the finding of a structure or pattern in a bunch of unknown data. Clustering algorithms help in processing your data and discover natural clusters (groups) if they are present in the data. One can also adjust how many clusters your algorithms should recognize. It gives you the power to modify the granularity of these groups.

There are various types of clustering you can use:

1.1. Exclusive (Partitioning)

In this method of clustering, the data is organized in a kind of way that a single data can be a part of one cluster only. For example, K –means clustering.

1.2. Agglomerative

Every data is a cluster, in this very clustering technique. The constant unions between the two closest clusters decrease the number of clusters. For example Hierarchical Clustering

1.3. Overlapping

Fuzzy sets are used to cluster data in this very technique. Each point may be a part of two or more clusters with different degrees of membership. In this, data will be attached to a suitable membership value. For example, fuzzy c- means.

1.4. Probabilistic

The probability distribution is used in this technique to make the clusters. For example, the following keywords:

  • "man's shoe."
  • "women's shoe."
  • "man's glove."
  • "women's glove."

They can be clustered into two forms "shoe" and "glove" or "man" and "women."

1.5. Hierarchical clustering:

Hierarchical clustering is a form of an algorithm that makes a hierarchy of clusters. It starts with all the data which is allotted to a cluster of their own. Now, two near clusters are going to be in the same cluster. This algorithm comes to an end when just a single cluster is left.

1.6. K-means Clustering

K refers to a dull clustering algorithm which helps in finding the highest value for every problem. In the beginning, the required number of clusters is selected. One has to cluster the data points into k groups, in this very method of clustering. A bigger k means smaller groups with much more granularity in a similar way. A lower k means bigger groups with a reduced amount of granularity.

The outcome of the algorithm is a group "labels." It gives data points to a random k group. Each group is described by making a centroid for each group, in k means group. The centroids are considered as the heart of the cluster. It helps in capturing the points nearest to them and also add them to the cluster.

Further k mean clustering explains two subgroups:

  • Dendrogram
  • Agglomerative clustering
1.7. Agglomerative clustering:

This form of k means clustering begins with a particular number of clusters. It allows all the data into a fixed number of clusters. In this method of clustering, it does not need the number of clusters k as an input. The process of agglomeration begins by forming each data as one cluster.

Few distant measures are used by this method, which decreases the number of clusters by the merging process. In the end, we are left with one big cluster that consists of all the objects.

1.8. Dendrogram:

In this very method of dendrogram clustering, each level exhibits a possible cluster. The height of the dendrogram represents the amount of similarity between the two clusters. The nearer to the bottom of the process, which is a more familiar cluster which is a research of the group from dendrogram, which cannot be seen as natural and mostly subjective.

1.9. k- Nearest Neighbors

K-nearest neighbor is the easiest from all types of machine learning classifiers. Other types of machine learning are different from this; in this, it does not make a model. It is a simple type of algorithm which keeps a record of all available cases and differentiates new instances, which are based on a similarity measure.

2. Association

The rules of association give allowance to form associations amongst data objects inside the big databases. This unsupervised technique is purely about finding a fascinating relationship between the variables in huge databases. For instance, people who buy a new home are most probably going to buy new furniture.

Other examples:

  • A group of some cancer patients is arranged according to their gene expression measurement.
  • Groups of shopper are arranged according to their browsing and purchasing history
  • Films are grouped according to their rating given by the viewers

Supervised vs. Unsupervised Machine Learning

Basis of Difference



Input Data

Labelled data is used to train algorithms.

Algorithms face the data which is not labelled

Computational Complexity

Supervised learning is an easier method.

Unsupervised learning is computationally complex


Highly accurate and trustworthy method.

Less accurate and trustworthy method compared to supervised.

Applications of Unsupervised Machine Learning

Some of the workings of unsupervised machine learning are as follows:

  • Clustering itself divides the dataset into groups based on its similarities.
  • Unusual data points in your dataset can be discovered by anomaly detection. It is beneficial for finding fraudulent transactions.
  • Association mining also recognizes sets of items which mostly occur jointly in your dataset.
  • Most of the time, latent variable models are used for data preprocessing. For example, decreasing the number of features in a dataset or decaying the dataset into various components.


In conclusion, the unsupervised learning algorithms allow you to do more complex processing tasks. There are several benefits of unsupervised learnings such as it is taken in place problem -solving time, hence all of the input data which is to be analyzed and labelled in the appearance of learners. Also, it is simple to get unlabelled data from a computer as compared to labelled data, which requires manual intervention. Various types of unsupervised learning help in deploying new ideas and innovation in action and create an out of the box experience.

Have you experienced unsupervised learning in your life when you have learned something by co-relating the patterns you have come across? Share your story and experiences with us in the comments!

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Davinder Pal Singh

Davinder Pal Singh

Davinder Passed his post-graduation with merit, he was the first one to submit his project on time, He is highly skilled in typing and research work. He is having more than 16 years of working experience as a freelance technical writer on creating keyword-rich content for clients in various technology. View all posts by the Author

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