Instance Based Learning in Machine Learning


Instance Based Learning in Machine Learning

Instance-based learning, also known as lazy learning, is a type of machine learning algorithm where the model generalizes from a set of instances (data points) in the training data, rather than building an explicit generalization like in traditional model-based learning algorithms. In instance-based learning, the model stores the training instances and makes predictions by comparing new data points to those stored instances.

The most common instance-based learning algorithm is the k-nearest neighbors (KNN) algorithm. Here’s how it works:

  1. Training Phase: During the training phase, the algorithm simply stores the training instances and their corresponding labels.
  2. Prediction Phase: When a new data point needs to be classified or predicted, the algorithm finds the k nearest training instances to that data point based on a distance metric (usually Euclidean distance). The predicted label for the new data point is determined by the majority class among the k-nearest neighbors.

Instance-based learning has its advantages and disadvantages:


  • No explicit training phase: The model doesn’t build a separate generalization from the data, which can make training faster.
  • Can handle changing data: Since the model relies on stored instances, it can adapt to changes in the data distribution without retraining.


  • Computational cost: For each prediction, the algorithm needs to compare the new instance to all stored instances, which can be slow if the dataset is large.
  • Sensitivity to noise: Noisy or irrelevant instances in the training data can impact predictions significantly.
  • Memory requirements: Storing all training instances can be memory-intensive, especially for large datasets.

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