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Why is Python so popular in machine learning?

Q:

Why is Python so popular in machine learning?

A:

There are a number of reasons why the Python programming language is popular with professionals who work on machine learning systems.

One of the most commonly cited reasons is the syntax of Python, which has been described as both “elegant” and also “math-like.” Experts point out that the semantics of Python have a particular correspondence to many common mathematical ideas, so that it doesn't take as much of a learning curve to apply those mathematical ideas in the Python language.

Python is also often described as simple and easy to learn, which is a big part of its appeal for any applied use, including machine learning systems. Some programmers describe Python as having a favorable “complexity/performance trade-off” and describe how using Python is more intuitive than some other languages, because of its accessible syntax.

Other users point out that Python also has particular tools that are extremely helpful in working with machine learning systems. Some cite an array of frameworks and libraries, along with extensions like NumPy, where these accessories make Python tasks easier to implement. So the context of the programming language itself is also important in its popularity for these applied uses. Another resource is a scikit module called “machine learning in Python,” which can guide professionals toward using Python in this capacity.

Python is described favorably for machine learning in comparison to languages like Java, Ruby on Rails, C or Perl. Where some might use other languages for “hard-coding” and describe Python as a “toy language” that’s accessible to basic users, many see Python as a fully functional alternative to dealing with the cryptic syntax of some other languages.

Some point out that ease of use makes for better collaborative coding and implementation, and that as a general-purpose language, Python can do a lot of things easily, which helps with a complex set of machine learning tasks. All of this makes Python a frequently sought-after language skill in the tech world. Another benefit is broad support: Because so many people view as Python as a standard, the support community is large, which builds Python's popularity even more.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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