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Normalizing Data Sets in Machine Learning

Normalizing data is a common preprocessing step in machine learning. It involves transforming the data so that it has a zero mean and a unit variance.

This can be helpful for several reasons, including:

1. Improved performance of algorithms: Many machine learning algorithms, such as linear regression and logistic regression, assume that the data is normally distributed. Normalizing the data can help to improve the performance of these algorithms.

2. Reduced sensitivity to outliers: Normalizing the data can help to reduce the sensitivity of machine learning algorithms to outliers. Outliers are data points that are far away from the rest of the data. They can have a large impact on the training of a model, and normalizing the data can help to mitigate this effect.

3. Prevents numerical instability: Normalizing the data can help to prevent numerical instability in machine learning algorithms. Numerical instability can occur when the data has a large range of values, and it can lead to inaccurate results.

Some common methods for Normalizing Data

1. Mean normalization: This method subtracts the mean of the data from each data point.

2. Min-max normalization: This method scales the data to a fixed range, such as [0, 1] or [-1, 1].

3. Z-score normalization: This method subtracts the mean of the data from each data point and then divides by the standard deviation.


  • Preprocessing Data in Machine Learning by Jiawei Han, Micheline Kamber, Jian Pei, Data Mining Concepts and Techniques, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2011.
  • Data Preprocessing for Machine Learning by D.J. Hand, C.C. Taylor, C.A. Nimblett, G.M. Currie, P.J. Hall, D.J. McClean, Data Mining in Practice, Elsevier, 2000.