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How Much Training Data Do You Require For Machine Learning?
Latest   Machine Learning

How Much Training Data Do You Require For Machine Learning?

Last Updated on July 26, 2023 by Editorial Team

Author(s): Gaurav Sharma

Originally published on Towards AI.

Machine Learning

Image by startuphub.ai

It is a crucial component of machine learning (ML), and having the proper quality and amount of data sets is critical for accurate outcomes. The more training data available for the machine learning algorithm, the better the model will be able to identify different sorts of objects, making it simpler to distinguish them in real-life predictions.

However, how will you determine how much training is sufficient for your machine learning? As insufficient data will affect your model’s prediction accuracy, while more than enough data will yield the best results, the question is whether you can manage big data or large quantities of datasets, as well as whether you can feed such data into algorithms using deep learning or a more complex method.

The complexity of your model, machine learning algorithms, and data training or validation procedure all influence how much training data is necessary for machine learning. And, in certain situations, how much evidence is needed to show that one model is superior to another. All of these considerations in determining the appropriate amount of datasets allow us to go deeper into the question of how much data is sufficient for machine learning.

Why are you inquiring about this?

It’s critical to understand why you’re inquiring about the training dataset’s needed size.

Your next move may be influenced by the response.

Consider the following scenario:

1. Do you have an excessive amount of data? Consider creating some learning curves to determine the size of a sample. Alternatively, utilize a big data framework to take advantage of all accessible data.

2. Do you have an insufficient amount of data? Confirm that you do, in fact, have insufficient data. Consider gathering extra data or utilizing data augmentation techniques to boost your sample size artificially.

3. Have you gathered any data yet? Consider gathering some information and determining whether it is sufficient. Consider speaking with a domain expert and a statistician if it’s for research or data collecting is pricey.

More commonly, you may have more mundane concerns, such as:

  • How many records from the database should I export?
  • What is the minimum number of samples necessary to attain a desired level of performance?
  • How big does the training set have to be to get a good approximation of model performance?
  • How much data is needed to show that one model is superior to another?
  • Should I use k-fold cross-validation or a train/test split?

So, how much training data do you require?

1. It depends, no one tells you exactly

No one can tell you how much data you’ll need for your predictive modelling challenge; no one can tell you how much data you’ll require. It’s unknowable: a difficult problem for which empirical inquiry is required to find solutions.

The amount of data needed for machine learning is determined by a number of factors, including:

The unknown underlying function that best links your input variables to the output variable due to the problem’s complexity.

The difficulty of the learning algorithm, which is used to learn the unknown underlying mapping function inductively from particular cases.

2. Analogy as a means of reasoning

Before you, a lot of people worked on a lot of applied machine learning challenges.

Some of them have made their findings public.

Perhaps you can look at research on situations comparable to yours to get an idea of how much data you’ll need.

Similarly, research on how algorithm performance scales with dataset size is popular. Such research may be able to tell you how much data you’ll need to run a certain algorithm.

You might be able to average the results of many research.

3. Make use of your domain knowledge

You’ll need a sample of data from your problem that’s typical of the issue you’re working on.

In general, the instances must be dispersed equally and independently.

Remember that we’re learning a function to translate input data to output data in machine learning. The mapping function you learn will be only as good as the data you give it to learn from.

This implies that there must be sufficient data to capture the relationships that may exist between input features and between input features and output features.

Use your domain expertise or seek out a domain expert to reason about the domain and the quantity of data that may be necessary to capture the problem’s useful complexity.

4. Nonlinear algorithms require more information

Nonlinear algorithms are commonly used to describe the more sophisticated machine learning methods.

They can learn complicated nonlinear connections between input and output characteristics by definition. You may already be utilising or planning to utilise these sorts of algorithms.

These methods are frequently more flexible, and in some cases nonparametric (they can figure out how many parameters are required to model your problem in addition to the values of those parameters). They’re also high-variance, which means that predictions differ depending on the data used to train them. This increased flexibility and capability comes at the cost of more training data, typically a significant amount of data.

In reality, certain nonlinear algorithms, such as deep learning approaches, can increase their performance as more data is provided.

If a linear method performs well with hundreds of instances per class, a nonlinear approach like a random forest or an artificial neural network may require thousands of examples per class.

5. Compare the size of the data set to the model’s skill.

When creating a new machine-learning algorithm, it’s usual to show and even explain how the algorithm performs in response to the amount of data or the difficulty of the task.

These studies may or may not have been conducted and published by the algorithm’s creator, and they may or may not exist for the algorithms or problem types with which you are working.

I recommend conducting your own research using your own data and a single high-performing algorithm, such as a random forest.

6. Get More Data (Whatever It Takes!?)

Although large data and machine learning are frequently discussed together, huge data may not be required to fit your prediction model.

Some issues need huge data or all of your data. Simple statistical machine translation, for example:

If you’re doing classic predictive modelling, the training set size will almost certainly reach a point of decreasing returns, and you should investigate your issues and model(s) to discover where that point is.

Keep in mind that machine learning is an inductive process. The model can only capture what it has seen. If your training data does not include edge cases, they will very likely not be supported by the model.


Don’t Wait; Get Started Now. Stop waiting to model your problem and start modelling it now.

Allowing the problem of the training data size to deter you from starting your predictive modelling challenge is a mistake.

In many situations, I view this question as an excuse to put off doing anything.

Gather as much information as you can, make the best of what you have, and assess how successful models are at solving your problem.

Learn something, then use it to improve your understanding of what you have by doing further analysis, augmentation, or gathering new data from your domain.


The quality and amount of training data are two of the most critical aspects that machine learning engineers and data scientists evaluate while building a model. However, it will become clearer in the future years how much training data is required for machine learning model building, but for now, “the more the better.” As a result, it would be preferable for you if you could acquire as much data as possible and use it, yet waiting for bid data to be acquired for a long period might cause delays in your projects.

There are several firms that provide high-quality machine learning and AI training data sets. They collect data, classifies it, and categorises it with Image annotation services in order to give well-supervised training data at a low cost.


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Published via Towards AI

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