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support vector machine SVM
Machine Learning Science

What is Support Vector Machine (SVM) in Machine Learning?

Support Vector Machine (SVM) is a popular machine learning technique for regression and classification applications. It works particularly well with problems that have complex decision boundaries and can handle high-dimensional data well. Finding the feature space hyperplane that best divides different classes is the aim of support vector machines (SVM).

This is a summary of how SVM functions:

Basic Idea:

Finding a hyperplane that maximizes the margin between different classes is the core idea behind support vector machines (SVM). The margin is the distance, measured in units of each class, between the closest data points and the hyperplane. The closest data points are called support vectors.

Linear Separation:

In its simplest form, SVM searches for a linear hyperplane that splits the data into two classes. Then, finding the hyperplane with the biggest margin between the support vectors of the two classes is the goal. This hyperplane is defined by the equation that follows: w*x+b equals zero. Here, w denotes the hyperplane weights, b denotes the bias term, and x denotes the input data.

Support Vectors and Margin:

The margin is calculated as the separation between the two parallel hyperplanes that make contact with the support vectors for each class. SVM wants to see this margin rise. Support vectors are the data points that directly influence the location of the hyperplane and are closest to the decision boundary.

SVM with Soft Margin:

However, it’s possible that the data isn’t always perfectly divided along a straight line. To address such situations, a variation called “soft margin SVM” proposes to allow for some misclassifications. It adds a penalty for incorrect classifications. The aim is to find a middle ground between optimizing the margin and minimizing the classification error.

support vector machine SVM

Kernel approach:

Further, SVM may be extended to handle data that is not linearly separable by using this method. In order to separate the original data linearly, it must be mapped onto a higher-dimensional space. Sigmoid, polynomial, and Gaussian Radial Basis Function (RBF) Kernels are a few examples of common kernel functions.

C and Gamma Parameters:

In Support Vector Machines (SVM), the kernel function parameters C and γ are crucial. C determines the trade-off between maximizing the margin and minimizing the classification error. A smaller C encourages a wider margin and may lead to more misclassifications. A higher C leads to less misclassifications but a smaller margin. The decision boundary’s shape is determined by γ in the event that kernel functions are employed.

Multi-Class Classification:

Using techniques like one-vs-one or one-vs-rest, where several binary classifiers are trained to distinguish between the classes, SVM can handle multi-class classification.


Support Vector Regression (SVR) is an additional task that can be accomplished with SVM. Instead of locating a hyperplane that separates classes, SVR fits the maximum number of data points within a predetermined range.


In conclusion, with strong theoretical foundations, the SVM algorithm is a highly effective tool. However, its computational complexity might cause it to perform poorly with very large datasets. Furthermore, modifying the hyperparameters C and γ may have a significant effect on the model’s performance, which often necessitates cross-validation.


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