The Five Levels of Machine Learning Use Cases

Level 0: Talk to users

No matter what you build, no matter how much funding you have, no matter what industry you’re in: you must talk to your end users.

Level 1: Identification (sometimes called Classification)

Also known as: “tell me what this thing is.”

  • I took a picture. Machine learning tells me it’s a dog.
  • I received an email. Machine learning tells me it’s about dog food.
  • I am on a website. Machine learning tells me it has a shopping plug-in.
  • I am looking at a bank statement. Machine learning tells me there is a grocery transaction.

Level 2: Categorization

Also known as: “group these similar things.”

  • I have 1,000 pictures. Separate the dog and cat photos.
  • I have 10,000 emails. Group them into hierarchies: which ones are about pets, and of those, which ones are about dog food vs cat food.
  • I have 100,000 websites. Categorize them by brand tone.
  • I have 1M bank statements. Label each transaction as Retail, Services, or Other.

Level 3: Assessment

Also known as: “tell me whether I should care about this thing.”

  • I have 1,000 pictures. Tell me which ones have a sick dog.
  • I have 10,000 emails. Tell me which ones are high priority.
  • I have 100,000 websites. Tell me which ones have illegal terms and conditions for their respective countries.
  • I have 1B banking transactions. Tell me which ones are fraudulent.

Level 4: Recommendation

Also known as: “tell me what to do about this thing.”

  • I think I have a picture of sick dog. Now what?
  • I think I have an important email. Now what?
  • I think I have an illegal website. Now what?
  • I think I have a fraudulent bank transaction. Now what?

Level 5: Prediction

Also known as: “will this thing happen?”

  • Will my vet clinic see more sick dogs next month?
  • Which customers are most likely to purchase a couch in the next 60 days?
  • Can I predict a fraudulent bank transaction? How should I best notify the user/freeze the card?
  • Is a power outage likely to happen in San Francisco this month? How can we mitigate that?

Ascending the Ladder: Final Thoughts

These five levels have served me and my clients well across a variety of projects and applications, from labeling dog photos to predicting train track malfunctions. These are core building blocks to ML use cases, and I hope you find them valuable.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Allie Miller

Allie Miller

2.1K Followers

Global Head of Machine Learning BD, Startups and Venture Capital, AWS. Proud Wharton and Dartmouth alum. Champion axe thrower. Views are my own.