AWS Simplifies Machine Learning

Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) announced a new machine learning service at its summit today, promising to simplify the technology.

Machine learning (ML) uses an algorithmic approach to analyzing historical data in order to develop predictive models and guide decision making.

Such models can help with filtering spam, detecting fraud, personalizing content, retaining customers and marketing, among many other use cases.

In announcing Amazon Machine Learning, AWS said it wants to make the technology more accessible to the masses, much like Big Data is becoming "democratized" by being simplified so users other than highly trained specialists can use the technology.

"Until now, very few developers have been able to build applications with machine learning capabilities because doing so required expertise in statistics, data analysis and machine learning," AWS said in a statement. "In addition, the traditional process for applying machine learning involves many manual, repetitive, and error-prone tasks such as computing summary statistics, performing data analysis, using machine learning algorithms to train a model based on data, evaluating and fine tuning the model, and then generating predictions using the model. Amazon Machine Learning makes machine learning broadly accessible to all software developers by abstracting away this complexity and automating these steps.

AWS said the fully managed, highly scalable service is based on the same technology internal developers use to generate more than 50 billion predictions per week.

Developers can use the service's APIs -- or its AWS Management Console -- along with visualization tools and wizards to create ML models to work with data from stores such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Redshift, or MySQL databases in Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).

"Amazon has a long legacy in machine learning. It powers the product recommendations customers receive on, it is what makes Amazon Echo able to respond to your voice, and it is what allows us to unload an entire truck full of products and make them available for purchase in as little as 30 minutes," said company exec Jeff Bilger. "Early on, we recognized that the potential of machine learning could only be realized if we made it accessible to every developer across Amazon. Amazon Machine Learning is the result of everything we've learned in the process of enabling thousands of Amazon developers to quickly build models, experiment, and then scale to power planet-scale predictive applications."

AWS said the ML service is pay-as-you-go, so developers can start with small projects and scale up as needed. Pricing information based on different fees for data analysis and model building -- not including storage -- is here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.