What is Support Vector Machine (SVM)?

A Support Vector Machine (SVM) is a supervised learning algorithm utilized in the field of machine learning. It is primarily applied to perform tasks such as classification and regressionThis algorithm can handle various tasks, such as figuring out if an email is spam, recognizing handwriting, or even detecting faces in pictures. It is super adaptable and can deal with lots of information and complex relationships in the data. 

The main job of SVM is to draw the best possible line (or plane) to separate different groups of things based on their features. It’s like finding the perfect boundary between different classes in a dataset. So, whether it’s classifying text, images, or anything else, SVM is a go-to tool in the exciting world of machine learning.

Types of SVM

Linear Support Vector Machine 

Linear SVM works best when the data can be easily split into two groups using a straight line. Imagine your data is like dots on a piece of paper, and you can draw a single straight line to neatly separate them into two different classes. That is the data should be perfectly linearly separable.

Non-Linear Support Vector Machine

When the data cannot be classified into two seperate groups with a straight line, that’s when we bring in Non-Linear SVM. The data here is not linearly separable. In these situations, Non-Linear SVM comes to the rescue. In the real world, where data is often messy and doesn’t follow a simple pattern, Non-Linear SVM with its kernel tricks is used.

How Does It Work?

Imagine you have two groups of things, let’s say green and blue dots, scattered on the floor. SVM’s job is to find the best possible line (or a plane if you’re in a 3D world) that separates these dots into their respective groups.

Now, there could be many lines that separate the dots, right? But SVM looks for a special one – the line that has the maximum distance from the closest green dots to the line and from the closest blue dots to the line. This distance is called the “margin,” and SVM wants to make it as big as possible.

These closest dots that play a crucial role in defining the line are called “support vectors.” SVM focuses on them to draw the best line that maximizes the space between the two groups.

But what if your dots are not neatly separated by a straight line? What if they are all over the place? That’s where SVM can use something called “kernel tricks” to lift the problem into a higher-dimensional space, making it possible to draw a more complex separating curve or surface.

Use Cases And Applications

1. Spam Email Filtering: Imagine you have an email inbox filled with messages, some spam, and some not. SVM can be used to create a smart filter that learns to distinguish between spam and regular emails. It looks at various features of emails, like the words used, and draws a line to separate the spam from the non-spam, keeping your inbox clean.

2. Handwriting Recognition: If you want your computer to recognize different people’s handwriting. SVM can do that. By analyzing the features of handwritten letters, like their shapes and sizes, SVM can draw lines or curves to separate one person’s handwriting from another, making it useful for applications like digit recognition in postal services.

3. Medical Diagnosis: In the world of medicine, SVM can help in diagnosing diseases. Let’s say you have data about patients, some with a certain condition and some without. SVM can analyze various health indicators and create a boundary to separate healthy patients from those with the condition. This can assist doctors in making more accurate diagnoses.

4. Image Classification:  Consider a scenario where you have lots of images, some of the cats and some of the dogs. SVM can be the hero in creating a system that learns to tell the difference between cats and dogs based on features like colors, shapes, or patterns. It draws a line (or more complex boundaries) to classify new images correctly.

5. Stock Market Prediction: If you’re interested in the stock market, SVM can come in handy. By analyzing historical stock data and considering various factors like trading volumes and price changes, SVM can create a model to predict whether a stock will go up or down. 


Manya Goyal is an AI and Research consulting intern at MarktechPost. She is currently pursuing her B.Tech from the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University(Bhagwan Parshuram Institute of Technology). She is a Data Science enthusiast and has a keen interest in the scope of application of artificial intelligence in various fields. She is a podcaster on Spotify and is passionate about exploring.

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