This course offers a brief introduction to the multivariate calculus required to build many common machine learning techniques. We start at the very beginning with a refresher on the “rise over run” formulation of a slope, before converting this to the formal definition of the gradient of a function. We then start to build up a set of tools for making calculus easier and faster. Next, we learn how to calculate vectors that point up hill on multidimensional surfaces and even put this into action using an interactive game. We take a look at how we can use calculus to build approximations to functions, as well as helping us to quantify how accurate we should expect those approximations to be. We also spend some time talking about where calculus comes up in the training of neural networks, before finally showing you how it is applied in linear regression models. This course is intended to offer an intuitive understanding of calculus, as well as the language necessary to look concepts up yourselves when you get stuck. Hopefully, without going into too much detail, you’ll still come away with the confidence to dive into some more focused machine learning courses in future.

From the lesson

Intro to optimisation

If we want to find the minimum and maximum points of a function then we can use multivariate calculus to do this, say to optimise the parameters (the space) of a function to fit some data. First we’ll do this in one dimension and use the gradient to give us estimates of where the zero points of that function are, and then iterate in the Newton-Raphson method. Then we’ll extend the idea to multiple dimensions by finding the gradient vector, Grad, which is the vector of the Jacobian. This will then let us find our way to the minima and maxima in what is called the gradient descent method. We’ll then take a moment to use Grad to find the minima and maxima along a constraint in the space, which is the Lagrange multipliers method.