In this post you will get to grips with what is perhaps the most essential concept in machine learning: the bias-variance trade-off. The main idea here is that you want to create models that are as good at prediction as possible but that are still applicable to new data (i.e. they are generalizable). The danger is that you can easily create models that overfit to the local noise in your specific dataset, which isn’t too helpful and leads to poor generalizability since the noise is random and therefore different in each dataset. Essentially, you want to create models that capture only the useful components of a dataset. On the other hand, models that generalize very well but are too inflexible to generate good predictions are the other extreme you want to avoid (this is called underfitting).
We discuss and demonstrate these concepts using the k-nearest neighbors algorithm…
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