As artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming present in almost every aspect of life, it’s essential to understand how they work and their common applications. Although machine learning has been around for a while, many still portray it as an enemy. Machine learning can be your friend, but only if you learn to “tame” it.
Regression stands out as one of the most popular machine-learning techniques. It serves as a bridge that connects the past to the present and future. It does so by picking up on different “events” from the past and breaking them apart to analyze them. Based on this analysis, regression can make conclusions about the future and help many plan the next move.
The weather forecast is a basic example. With the regression technique, it’s possible to travel back in time to view average temperatures, humidity, and other variables relevant to the results. Then, you “return” to present and tailor predictions about the weather in the future.
There are different types of regression, and each has unique applications, advantages, and drawbacks. This article will analyze these types.
Linear regression in machine learning is one of the most common techniques. This simple algorithm got its name because of what it does. It digs deep into the relationship between independent and dependent variables. Based on the findings, linear regression makes predictions about the future.
There are two distinguishable types of linear regression:
- Simple linear regression – There’s only one input variable.
- Multiple linear regression – There are several input variables.
Linear regression has proven useful in various spheres. Its most popular applications are:
- Predicting salaries
- Analyzing trends
- Forecasting traffic ETAs
- Predicting real estate prices
At its core, polynomial regression functions just like linear regression, with one crucial difference – the former works with non-linear datasets.
When there’s a non-linear relationship between variables, you can’t do much with linear regression. In such cases, you send polynomial regression to the rescue. You do this by adding polynomial features to linear regression. Then, you analyze these features using a linear model to get relevant results.
Here’s a real-life example in action. Polynomial regression can analyze the spread rate of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Ridge regression is a type of linear regression. What’s the difference between the two? You use ridge regression when there’s high colinearity between independent variables. In such cases, you have to add bias to ensure precise long-term results.
This type of regression is also called L2 regularization because it makes the model less complex. As such, ridge regression is suitable for solving problems with more parameters than samples. Due to its characteristics, this regression has an honorary spot in medicine. It’s used to analyze patients’ clinical measures and the presence of specific antigens. Based on the results, the regression establishes trends.
No, LASSO regression doesn’t have anything to do with cowboys and catching cattle (although that would be interesting). LASSO is actually an acronym for Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator.
Like ridge regression, this one also belongs to regularization techniques. What does it regulate? It reduces a model’s complexity by eliminating parameters that aren’t relevant, thus concentrating the selection and guaranteeing better results.
Many choose ridge regression when analyzing a model with numerous true coefficients. When there are only a few of them, use LASSO. Therefore, their applications are similar; the real difference lies in the number of available coefficients.
Elastic Net Regression
Ridge regression is good for analyzing problems involving more parameters than samples. However, it’s not perfect; this regression type doesn’t promise to eliminate irrelevant coefficients from the equation, thus affecting the results’ reliability.
On the other hand, LASSO regression eliminates irrelevant parameters, but it sometimes focuses on far too few samples for high-dimensional data.
As you can see, both regressions are flawed in a way. Elastic net regression is the combination of the best characteristics of these regression techniques. The first phase is finding ridge coefficients, while the second phase involves a LASSO-like shrinkage of these coefficients to get the best results.
Support Vector Regression
Support vector machine (SVM) belongs to supervised learning algorithms and has two important uses:
- Classification problems
Let’s try to draw a mental picture of how SVM works. Suppose you have two classes of items (let’s call them red circles and green triangles). Red circles are on the left, while green triangles are on the right. You can separate these two classes by drawing a line between them.
Things get a bit more complicated if you have red circles in the middle and green triangles wrapped around them. In that case, you can’t draw a line to separate the classes. But you can add new dimensions to the mix and create a circle (rectangle, square, or a different shape encompassing just the red circles).
This is what SVM does. It creates a hyperplane and analyzes classes depending on where they belong.
There are a few parameters you need to understand to grasp the reach of SVM fully:
- Kernel – When you can’t find a hyperplane in a dimension, you move to a higher dimension, which is often challenging to navigate. A kernel is like a navigator that helps you find the hyperplane without plummeting computational costs.
- Hyperplane – This is what separates two classes in SVM.
- Decision boundary – Think of this as a line that helps you “decide” the placement of positive and negative examples.
Support vector regression takes a similar approach. It also creates a hyperplane to analyze classes but doesn’t classify them depending on where they belong. Instead, it tries to find a hyperplane that contains a maximum number of data points. At the same time, support vector regression tries to lower the risk of prediction errors.
SVM has various applications. It can be used in finance, bioinformatics, engineering, HR, healthcare, image processing, and other branches.
Decision Tree Regression
This type of supervised learning algorithm can solve both regression and classification issues and work with categorical and numerical datasets.
As its name indicates, decision tree regression deconstructs problems by creating a tree-like structure. In this tree, every node is a test for an attribute, every branch is the result of a test, and every leaf is the final result (decision).
The starting point of (the root) of every tree regression is the parent node. This node splits into two child nodes (data subsets), which are then further divided, thus becoming “parents” to their “children,” and so on.
You can compare a decision tree to a regular tree. If you take care of it and prune the unnecessary branches (those with irrelevant features), you’ll grow a healthy tree (a tree with concise and relevant results).
Due to its versatility and digestibility, decision tree regression can be used in various fields, from finance and healthcare to marketing and education. It offers a unique approach to decision-making by breaking down complex datasets into easy-to-grasp categories.
Random Forest Regression
Random forest regression is essentially decision tree regression but on a much bigger scale. In this case, you have multiple decision trees, each predicting a certain output. Random forest regression analyzes the outputs of every decision tree to come up with the final result.
Keep in mind that the decision trees used in random forest regression are completely independent; there’s no interaction between them until their outputs are analyzed.
Random forest regression is an ensemble learning technique, meaning it combines the results (predictions) of several machine learning algorithms to create one final prediction.
Like decision tree regression, this one can be used in numerous industries.
The Importance of Regression in Machine Learning Is Immeasurable
Regression in machine learning is like a high-tech detective. It travels back in time, identifies valuable clues, and analyzes them thoroughly. Then, it uses the results to predict outcomes with high accuracy and precision. As such, regression found its way to all niches.
You can use it in sales to analyze the customers’ behavior and anticipate their future interests. You can also apply it in finance, whether to discover trends in prices or analyze the stock market. Regression is also used in education, the tech industry, weather forecasting, and many other spheres.
Every regression technique can be valuable, but only if you know how to use it to your advantage. Think of your scenario (variables you want to analyze) and find the best actor (regression technique) who can breathe new life into it.
Soon, we will be launching four new Degrees for AY24-25 at OPIT – Open Institute of Technology
I want to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the Product Definition process that has shaped these upcoming programs.
🚀 Phase 1: Discovery (Late May – End of July)
Our journey began with intensive brainstorming sessions with OPIT’s Academic Board (Francesco Profumo, Lorenzo Livi, Alexiei Dingli, Andrea Pescino, Rosario Maccarrone) . We also conducted 50+ interviews with tech and digital entrepreneurs (both from startups and established firms), academics and students. Finally, we deep-dived into the “Future of Jobs 2023” report by the World Economic Forum and other valuable research.
🔍 Phase 2: Selection – Crafting Our Roadmap (July – August)
Our focus? Introducing new degrees addressing critical workforce shortages and upskilling/reskilling needs for the next 5-10 years, promising significant societal impact and a broad market reach.
Our decision? To channel our energies on full BScs and MScs, and steer away from shorter courses or corporate-focused offerings. This aligns perfectly with our core mission.
💡 Focus Areas Unveiled!
We’re thrilled to concentrate on pivotal fields like:
- Advanced AI
- Digital Business
- Metaverse & Gaming
- Cloud Computing (less “glamorous”, but market demand is undeniable).
🎓 Phase 3: Definition – Shaping the Degrees (August – November)
With an expert in each of the above fields, and with the strong collaboration of our Academic Director, Prof. Lorenzo Livi , we embarked on a rigorous “drill-down process”. Our goal? To meld modern theoretical knowledge with cutting-edge competencies and skills. This phase included interviewing over 60+ top academics, industry professionals, and students and get valuable, program-specific, insights from our Marketing department.
🌟 Phase 4: Accreditation and Launch – The Final Stretch
We’re currently in the accreditation process, gearing up for the launch. The focus is now shifting towards marketing, working closely with Greta Maiocchi and her Marketing and Admissions team. Together, we’re translating our new academic offering into a compelling value proposition for the market.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Far from being a temporary educational measure that came into its own during the pandemic, online education is providing students from all over the world with new ways to learn. That’s proven by statistics from Oxford Learning College, which point out that over 100 million students are now enrolled in some form of online course.
The demand for these types of courses clearly exists.
In fact, the same organization indicates that educational facilities that introduce online learning see a 42% increase in income – on average – suggesting that the demand is there.
Enter the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT).
Delivering three online courses – a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and two Master’s degrees – with more to come, OPIT is positioning itself as a leader in the online education space. But why is that? After all, many institutions are making the jump to e-learning, so what separates OPIT from the pack?
Here, you’ll discover the answers as you delve into the five reasons why you should trust OPIT for your online education.
Reason 1 – A Practical Approach
OPIT focuses on computer science education – a field in which theory often dominates the educational landscape. The organization’s Rector, Professor Francesco Profumo, makes this clear in a press release from June 2023. He points to a misalignment between what educators are teaching computer science students and what the labor market actually needs from those students as a key problem.
“The starting point is the awareness of the misalignment,” he says when talking about how OPIT structures its online courses. “That so-called mismatch is generated by too much theory and too little practical approach.” In other words, students in many classes spend far too much time learning the “hows” and “whys” behind computerized systems without actually getting their hands dirty with real work that gives them practical experience in using those systems.
OPIT takes a different approach.
It has developed a didactic approach that focuses far more on the practical element than other courses. That approach is delivered through a combination of classroom sessions – such as live lessons and masterclasses – and practical work offered through quizzes and exercises that mimic real-world situations.
An OPIT student doesn’t simply learn how computers work. They put their skills into practice through direct programming and application, equipping them with skills that are extremely attractive to major employers in the tech field and beyond.
Reason 2 – Flexibility Combined With Support
Flexibility in how you study is one of the main benefits of any online course.
You control when you learn and how you do it, creating an environment that’s beneficial to your education rather than being forced into a classroom setting with which you may not feel comfortable. This is hardly new ground. Any online educational platform can claim that it offers “flexibility” simply because it provides courses via the web.
Where OPIT differs is that it combines that flexibility with unparalleled support bolstered by the experiences of teachers employed from all over the world. The founder and director of OPIT, Riccardo Ocleppo, sheds more light on this difference in approach when he says, “We believe that education, even if it takes place physically at a distance, must guarantee closeness on all other aspects.” That closeness starts with the support offered to students throughout their entire study period.
Tutors are accessible to students at all times. Plus, every participant benefits from weekly professor interactions, ensuring they aren’t left feeling stuck on an educational “island” and have to rely solely on themselves for their education. OPIT further counters the potential isolation that comes with online learning with a Student Support team to guide students through any difficulties they may have with their courses.
In this focus on support, OPIT showcases one of its main differences from other online platforms.
You don’t simply receive course material before being told to “get on with it.” You have the flexibility to learn at your own pace while also having a support structure that serves as a foundation for that learning.
Reason 3 – OPIT Can Adapt to Change Quickly
The field of computer science is constantly evolving.
In the 2020s alone, we’ve seen the rise of generative AI – spurred on by the explosive success of services like ChatGPT – and how those new technologies have changed the way that people use computers.
Riccardo Ocleppo has seen the impact that these constant evolutions have had on students. Before founding OPIT, he was an entrepreneur who received first-hand experience of the fact that many traditional educational institutions struggle to adapt to change.
“Traditional educational institutions are very slow to adapt to this wave of new technologies and trends within the educational sector,” he says. He points to computer science as a particular issue, highlighting the example of a board in Italy of which he is a member. That board – packed with some of the country’s most prestigious tech universities – spent three years eventually deciding to add just two modules on new and emerging technologies to their study programs.
That left Ocleppo feeling frustrated.
When he founded OPIT, he did so intending to make it an adaptable institution in which courses were informed by what the industry needs. Every member of its faculty is not only a superb teacher but also somebody with experience working in industry. Speaking of industry, OPIT collaborates with major companies in the tech field to ensure its courses deliver the skills that those organizations expect from new candidates.
This confronts frustration on both sides. For companies, an OPIT graduate is one for which they don’t need to bridge a “skill gap” between what they’ve learned and what the company needs. For you, as a student, it means that you’re developing skills that make you a more desirable prospect once you have your degree.
Reason 4 – OPIT Delivers Tier One Education
Despite their popularity, online courses can still carry a stigma of not being “legitimate” in the face of more traditional degrees. Ocleppo is acutely aware of this fact, which is why he’s quick to point out that OPIT always aims to deliver a Tier One education in the computer science field.
“That means putting together the best professors who create superb learning material, all brought together with a teaching methodology that leverages the advancements made in online teaching,” he says.
OPIT’s degrees are all accredited by the European Union to support this approach, ensuring they carry as much weight as any other European degree. It’s accredited by both the European Qualification Framework (EQF) and the Malta Qualification Framework (MQF), with all of its courses having full legal value throughout Europe.
It’s also here where we see OPIT’s approach to practicality come into play via its course structuring.
Take its Bachelor’s degree in computer science as an example.
Yes, that course starts with a focus on theoretical and foundational knowledge. Building a computer and understanding how the device processes instructions is vital information from a programming perspective. But once those foundations are in place, OPIT delivers on its promises of covering the most current topics in the field.
Machine learning, cloud computing, data science, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity – all valuable to employers – are taught at the undergraduate level. Students benefit from a broader approach to computer science than most institutions are capable of, rather than bogging them down in theory that serves little practical purpose.
Reason 5 – The Learning Experience
Let’s wrap up by honing in on what it’s actually like for students to learn with OPIT.
After all, as Ocleppo points out, one of the main challenges with online education is that students rarely have defined checkpoints to follow. They can start feeling lost in the process, confronted with a metaphorical ocean of information they need to learn, all in service of one big exam at the end.
Alternatively, some students may feel the temptation to not work through the materials thoroughly, focusing instead on passing a final exam. The result is that those students may pass, but they do so without a full grasp of what they’ve learned – a nightmare for employers who already have skill gaps to handle.
OPIT confronts both challenges by focusing on a continuous learning methodology. Assessments – primarily practical – take place throughout the course, serving as much-needed checkpoints for evaluating progress. When combined with the previously mentioned support that OPIT offers, this approach has led to courses that are created from scratch in service of the student’s actual needs.
Choose OPIT for Your Computer Science Education
At OPIT, the focus lies as much on helping students to achieve their dream careers as it does on teaching them. All courses are built collaboratively. With a dedicated faculty combined with major industry players, such as Google and Microsoft, it delivers materials that bridge the skill gap seen in the computer science field today.
There’s also more to come.
Beyond the three degrees OPIT offers, the institution plans to add more. Game development, data science, and cloud computing, to name a few, will receive dedicated degrees in the coming months, accentuating OPIT’s dedication to adapting to the continuous evolution of the computer science industry. Discover OPIT today – your journey into computing starts with the best online education institution available.