Supervised vs Unsupervised Machine Learning

Supervised vs unsupervised machine learning can be hard to compare and contrast if you are new to the field.  Machine learning leverages AI (Artificial Intelligence) which gives a system the capability to learn and make improvements to itself.

AI essentially enables a computer to learn a task from data that it acquires during its own experiences. This is in contrast to being specifically programmed for said task. Machine Learning techniques are grouped into two main categories: supervised and unsupervised.

Supervised learning is when a machine learning algorithm is trained with labeled data. With this method, the data is tagged with the correct answer. This is similar to how a human learns with the aid of a teacher. By contrast, unsupervised learning is when the data is not labeled. This allows the machine to learn and uncover information unbeknownst to humans.

The two systems of machine learning are supervised and unsupervised learning. Both methods are used in different situations and with different datasets. In this article, we will explain both learning methods along with their different table

How Does Supervised Machine Learning Work?

If the goal is to train a machine-learning algorithm to predict how long it will take you to drive your workplace home, you would begin by making a set of data that you then label. This data would include the following:

  • Weather Conditions
  • Time of Day
  • Holidays

These details are your inputs. The output is how long it took to drive back home that day.

It’s obvious that if the weather is bad, it’s going to take longer to get home. For the machine to learn this, however, it needs statistics and data.

The more the machine is fed trip data, it can further ascertain that the more that it rains, the longer the trip will be. Also, the machine learning algorithm may see the connection between the time you leave work and the time you will be en route.

This is the beginning of a Data Model. It starts to make an impact on just how rain affects the way people commute. Also, it can begin to see that more people travel during a certain time of day.

Why Use Supervised Machine Learning?

  • Supervised learning is great for collect data and producing an output from the previously acquired information.
  • Allows the optimization of performance criteria using experience
  • Supervised machine learning assists in solving a broad range of real-world problems.

How Does Unsupervised Machine Learning Work?

Unsupervised learning works by analyzing data that has no labels. This means that the computer simply collects as much data as possible in order to try to derive patterns that are embedded within the data. Data, especially large amounts of it, can have structures hidden within it.
Unsupervised machine learning determines, through correlations, where the most important data points are. This type of machine learning is being used for clustering, dimensionality reduction, feature learning, density estimation, and more.

Why Use Unsupervised Machine Learning?

Here are a couple of good use-cases for Unsupervised Learning:

  • Unsupervised machine learning can find all sorts of patterns in data that humans could never think of even looking for.
  • Unsupervised learning can is excellent at finding features that can be useful for the categorization of data.
  • This occurs in real-time. So, that means that all of the input data that is to be analyzed is labeled in the presence of learners.
  • It’s much easier to get unlabeled data from a computer than it is to get labeled data. Labeled data needs manual intervention.

Types of Supervised Machine Learning Techniques

Method 1: Regression

Regression is a technique that excels at predicting a single output value using training data.

For example, you could use regression to predict a house’s price using training data. The input variables would be things like the region, the house’s square footage, etc.

Method 2: Classification

Classification is when the outputs are grouped inside a class. This is when the machine learning algorithm attempts to label input into two particular classes, this is referred to as binary classification.

This method can be used to determine if someone will default on their loan or not. The good thing about classification is that the outputs will have a probabilistic interpretation. So, the algorithms can be normalized to prevent over-fitting.

Logistical regression can sometimes underperform. This happens when there is more than one boundary or they are non-linear. So, this is not the most flexible method. This method is meant to capture relationships of low to mid complexity. Types of Unsupervised Machine Learning 

Method 1: Clustering

Clustering is a critical concept for unsupervised learning. This deals with finding patterns and structures that are embedded within an existing collection of data that has no categorization applied to it.

Clustering machine learning algorithms are able to process vast amounts of data to discover natural clusters or groups of data points that may be hidden in the dataset.

Method 2: Association

Association rules allow particular associations to be established within the data that are located in large data sets. This method of unsupervised machine learning has a focus on finding exciting connections between various variables within large datasets.

Supervised vs. Unsupervised Learning Input and Output

In supervised machine learning models, input and output variables are provided by the user. In this way, the machine learning algorithm is getting both the data and the meaning of the data. This type of machine learning is able to learn by seeing a massive amount of examples of the correct answer.

This is in deep contrast to unsupervised machine learning models where the user only inputs data. In this form of machine learning, the algorithm learns be examining only the connections between and patterns within the data. No labeling is used, so the machine has to figure out the correct answer on its own. 

Is Deep Learning Supervised or Unsupervised Learning?

Deep learning, also known as deep structured learning, refers to the broader scope of machine learning methods that are based on artificial neural networks with representation learning. This type of learning can be either supervised, semi-supervised or unsupervised.

So, essentially, when it comes to Supervised vs unsupervised machine learning, they are both subsets of Deep Learning. In deep learning, the data layers are also set to be heterogeneous and can deviate widely from biologically informed connectionist models. This is done for the sake of efficiency, trainability and understandability.


Essentially Supervised Learning is when labeled data is used to train an algorithm. This method is more like when a student is being taught by a teacher. Unsupervised learning, on the other hand, is when the data is not labeled. This allows machines to learn discover patterns that the programmers may have not considered.

  • In Supervised learning, the user trains the machine learning model by using data that is well labeled.’
  • Unsupervised learning is a machine learning technique where no supervision is needed.
  • The collected data or produced output data from previous experience is done by Supervised machine learning.
  • Unsupervised machine learning aids you in discovering all kinds of unknown patterns in data.
  • The two examples of supervised machine learning techniques are regression and Classification.
  • The two kinds of Unsupervised learning are clustering and Association.
  • Input and output variables are given In a supervised learning model,  while with an unsupervised learning model, just input data will be given

We hope this guide answered some of the questions that you had regarding supervised vs unsupervised machine learning. There really is a lot to know regarding the field of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, so we figured it would be helpful to put some of the most important information in one place.

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