"Siri, will it rain today?", "Facebook, tag my friend in this photo." These are just two examples of the incredible things that we ask computers to do for us. But, have you ever asked yourself how computers know how to do these things?
Machine learning is not a new concept but it is constantly evolving and the potential benefits of its capability are increasing by the second. A form of artificial intelligence, it provides computers with the ability to learn through experience, without being explicitly programmed to perform a task. As the computer receives more data, its algorithms become more finely tuned and over time it begins to recognise patterns and solve problems on its own - without the use of a programme. The more finely tuned the algorithm, the more accurate the computer can be in its predictions.
In their latest animation, Oxford Sparks, the University of Oxford's digital science portal, outline how researchers have combined the power of statistics and computer science, to build algorithms capable of solving complex problems more efficiently while using less computer power.
Using machine learning this way is already informing medical diagnosis and strengthening the speed and capability of smartphones and social media, but its scope to revolutionise the world seems limitless.
Explore further: Teaching computers to understand human languages