Microsoft has announced the release of a new, cloud-based machine learning service as part of its Azure suite of cloud computing products.
At its simplest, machine learning is a technique in which a computer system examines a set of data for common patterns that can be used to make predictions.
For example, a computer might be fed a set of images depicting human faces, and a second set of images of other objects. By examining the human face photos for common patterns not present in the images of other objects, the computer can create algorithm that predicts whether or not any particular image contains a human face.
Machine learning techniques are closely related to, and often get confused with, big data, which aims to find new insights within an existing set of data.
The technology has many commercial applications, including in search engines, online product recommendations, credit card fraud prevention systems and GPS traffic directions.
In its official statement, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of machine learning, Joseph Sirosh, said the new service will save businesses the cost of authoring, developing and scaling their own machine learning platforms.
“Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, a fully-managed cloud service for building predictive analytics solutions, helps overcome the challenges most businesses have in deploying and using machine learning,” said Sirosh.
“How? By delivering a comprehensive machine learning service that has all the benefits of the cloud. In mere hours, with Azure ML, customers and partners can build data-driven applications to predict, forecast and change future outcomes—a process that previously took weeks and months,” he said.
The public preview of the Azure ML public preview will begin in July.