How Are Machine Learning and Data Mining Related?

January 11, 2021 • Zachary Amos


There are a lot of terms to keep track of when it comes to modern technology. As a result, it can be challenging to keep track of what all these words mean or how they connect. You probably know that data mining and machine learning (ML) are different, but do you know how they’re related?

These concepts are central in modern business, but you may not understand the relationship between them. On the other side, you may get them confused because of how close they are to one another. There’s a definite difference between data mining and machine learning, but the two often come together.

What Is Machine Learning?

To understand the connection between these concepts, it helps to have a better grasp of their definitions. Let’s start with machine learning, which is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI). It involves teaching computer programs to find patterns in data sets and draw insights from these findings.

You’ll see machine learning in action whenever you hop on social media or search something on Google. These sites use it to provide you with personalized results based on data about your internet history. Some machine learning algorithms teach themselves to find new patterns as they continue analyzing data.

As you can see, machine learning is all about data analysis. If you didn’t know any better, it would be easy to call this process data mining. As you’re about to read, though, the two aren’t quite the same.

What Is Data Mining?

Whereas machine learning is a subset of AI, data mining is a business practice. More specifically, it’s a type of business analytics that involves finding patterns within data sets. Companies use this for a variety of purposes, including fraud detection and marketing, to improve operations.

One of the most common examples of data mining are the targeted ads you see on the internet. Businesses use data mining to learn about what kind of products might interest users with particular internet behavior. They then market these products towards these consumers, increasing the chance of making a sale.

You’ve probably noticed a substantial similarity between data mining and machine learning by now. Both involve finding patterns in data. While one is a technology, though, the other is a business practice.

Where Machine Learning and Data Mining Come Together

While data mining and machine learning are different, you’ll often see them in the same space. Most data mining applications you’ll find today use ML at some point in the process. A lot of companies use the latter to automate the former, streamlining the operations and finding new insights.

Machine learning can make the mining process more efficient, but that’s not where the relationship ends. Scientists and programmers can use data mining to create machine learning algorithms. You have to train these programs before they work autonomously, and data mining can reveal patterns to use in this training.

Many data mining processes use ML, but they don’t necessarily have to. Similarly, a lot of ML applications involve data mining, but not all of them do. So while the two are closely linked, they don’t always come hand-in-hand.

Understanding Data Science Terms

When you know the difference between these concepts, it helps you understand where tech is headed. These terms aren’t just buzzwords, but they’re central to modern technology and business. If you know what these mean and how they relate, you can keep up with the fast-paced world of modern tech.