Support Vector Machine

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What Does Support Vector Machine Mean?

A support vector machine (SVM) is machine learning algorithm that analyzes data for classification and regression analysis. SVM is a supervised learning method that looks at data and sorts it into one of two categories. An SVM outputs a map of the sorted data with the margins between the two as far apart as possible. SVMs are used in text categorization, image classification, handwriting recognition and in the sciences.


A support vector machine is also known as a support vector network (SVN).

Techopedia Explains Support Vector Machine

A support vector machine is a supervised learning algorithm that sorts data into two categories. It is trained with a series of data already classified into two categories, building the model as it is initially trained. The task of an SVM algorithm is to determine which category a new data point belongs in. This makes SVM a kind of non-binary linear classifier.

An SVM algorithm should not only place objects into categories, but have the margins between them on a graph as wide as possible.

Some applications of SVM include:

  • Text and hypertext classification
  • Image classification
  • Recognizing handwritten characters
  • Biological sciences, including protein classification

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.