What's the best books for learning machine learning

Hey, I want to learn a lot about machine learning and AI, I'd rather you suggest generic books about the concept rather than language specific.

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If you're interested in statistical analysis or image analysis then this book is for you, it covers all aspects of machine learning and a great start for Bayesian learning.

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Machine Learning for Hackers: Case Studies and Algorithms to Get You Started

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If you’re an experienced programmer interested in crunching data, this book will get you started with machine learning—a toolkit of algorithms that enables computers to train themselves to automate useful tasks. Authors Drew Conway and John Myles White help you understand machine learning and statistics tools through a series of hands-on case studies, instead of a traditional math-heavy presentation.

Each chapter focuses on a specific problem in machine learning, such as classification, prediction, optimization, and recommendation. Using the R programming language, you’ll learn how to analyze sample datasets and write simple machine learning algorithms. Machine Learning for Hackers is ideal for programmers from any background, including business, government, and academic research.

  • Develop a naïve Bayesian classifier to determine if an email is spam, based only on its text
  • Use linear regression to predict the number of page views for the top 1,000 websites
  • Learn optimization techniques by attempting to break a simple letter cipher
  • Compare and contrast U.S. Senators statistically, based on their voting records
  • Build a “whom to follow” recommendation system from Twitter data

Although this book is perfect for those with prior knowledge I can't recommend it for newbies. If you know a bit then great buy it or if you like being thrown in the deep end then pick it up.

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The Elements of Statistical Learning: Data Mining, Inference, and Prediction, Second Edition (Springer Series in Statistics)

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This book describes the important ideas in a variety of fields such as medicine, biology, finance, and marketing in a common conceptual framework. While the approach is statistical, the emphasis is on concepts rather than mathematics. Many examples are given, with a liberal use of colour graphics. It is a valuable resource for statisticians and anyone interested in data mining in science or industry. The book's coverage is broad, from supervised learning (prediction) to unsupervised learning. The many topics include neural networks, support vector machines, classification trees and boosting---the first comprehensive treatment of this topic in any book.

This major new edition features many topics not covered in the original, including graphical models, random forests, ensemble methods, least angle regression & path algorithms for the lasso, non-negative matrix factorisation, and spectral clustering. There is also a chapter on methods for "wide'' data (p bigger than n), including multiple testing and false discovery rates.

Simple, effective and very dense with information. This book is honestly the best I've read as a beginner and then moving into a career. A must have even for just a hobbyist.

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Programming Collective Intelligence: Building Smart Web 2.0 Applications

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Want to tap the power behind search rankings, product recommendations, social bookmarking, and online matchmaking? This fascinating book demonstrates how you can build Web 2.0 applications to mine the enormous amount of data created by people on the Internet. With the sophisticated algorithms in this book, you can write smart programs to access interesting datasets from other web sites, collect data from users of your own applications, and analyze and understand the data once you've found it. Programming Collective Intelligence takes you into the world of machine learning and statistics, and explains how to draw conclusions about user experience, marketing, personal tastes, and human behavior in general--all from information that you and others collect every day. Each algorithm is described clearly and concisely with code that can immediately be used on your web site, blog, Wiki, or specialized application. This book explains:
  • Collaborative filtering techniques that enable online retailers to recommend products or media
  • Methods of clustering to detect groups of similar items in a large dataset
  • Search engine features--crawlers, indexers, query engines, and the PageRank algorithm
  • Optimization algorithms that search millions of possible solutions to a problem and choose the best one
  • Bayesian filtering, used in spam filters for classifying documents based on word types and other features
  • Using decision trees not only to make predictions, but to model the way decisions are made
  • Predicting numerical values rather than classifications to build price models
  • Support vector machines to match people in online dating sites
  • Non-negative matrix factorization to find the independent features in adataset
  • Evolving intelligence for problem solving--how a computer develops its skill by improving its own code the more it plays a game 
Each chapter includes exercises for extending the algorithms to make them more powerful. Go beyond simple database-backed applications and put the wealth of Internet data to work for you.

"Bravo! I cannot think of a better way for a developer to first learn these algorithms and methods, nor can I think of a better way for me (an old AI dog) to reinvigorate my knowledge of the details."
-- Dan Russell, Google

"Toby's book does a great job of breaking down the complex subject matter of machine-learning algorithms into practical, easy-to-understand examples that can be directly applied to analysis of social interaction across the Web today. If I had this book two years ago, it would have saved precious time going down some fruitless paths."
-- Tim Wolters, CTO, Collective Intellect

This book is brilliant for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about machine learning. It has great example code written in python and also their real world examples are presented in a simplistic manner making your learning all that bit quicker.

Easy to understand and a very good read.