Basic Machine Learning tutorials in Javascript

February 17, 2017 - -

I had an entry in my Evernote for years linking to a genetic algorithm tutorial. I finally decided to look into it, and I discovered it was part a Machine Learning in Javascript series by Burak Kanber. After skimming through, I thought it looked worthwhile so I went through each one, and I copied out the data and the display logic. For each article I took out bits of code and tried to rebuild the idea from the explanation. I usually went back and forth a few times correcting my errors.

I’m not a great machine learning guy, but I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out. Kanber’s explanations are approachable and doesn’t get too bogged down in theory. These are all pretty introductory, but still useful. And, it’s nice seeing some Machine learning logic in a language I’m already comfortable with. Admittedly, I’m not sure all the articles strictly fall under the umbrella of “Machine Learning”, like Full-text search, but it’s still relevant.

He covers:

There are a few Javascript patterns in these articles that bug me. Frequently, the for-in loop is misused to iterate through an array. For-in should be reserved iterating over properties in an object. If an array happens to have a property attached to it, it would be iterated upon with for-in. I would suggest using a traditional for loop, Array.forEach, or even the new for-of loop. The author also makes some strange object-oriented choices. Display logic is frequently a part of certain business logic classes, or an instance has a method (like mateWith) that doesn’t affect it’s internal state and should probably exist elsewhere. I tended to move methods like this to a utility function outside the prototype. Finally, Kanber threw in localStorage in the naive-bayes tutorial which was unnecessary and only muddied the logic. Keeping data in just a local object would’ve been fine for example purposes which is what I ended up doing.

These gripes are relatively minor. Kanber explains the concepts well, and I’m grateful he published these articles and open sourced all of his code. It’s been a couple years since the last article, but hopefully he’ll deliver more.