Note: This glossary includes some detail intended mainly for MLJ developers.



Parameters on which some learning algorithm depends, specified before the algorithm is applied, and where learning is interpreted in the broadest sense. For example, PCA feature reduction is a "preprocessing" transformation "learning" a projection from training data, governed by a dimension hyperparameter. Hyper-Parameters in our sense may specify configuration (eg, number of parallel processes) even when this does not effect the end-product of learning. (But we exclude verbosity level.)

model (object of abstract type Model)

Object collecting together hyperameters of a single algorithm. Models are classified either as supervised or unsupervised models (eg, "transformers"), with corresponding subtypes Supervised <: Model and Unsupervised <: Model.

fit-result (type generally defined outside of MLJ)

Also known as "learned" or "fitted" parameters, these are "weights", "coefficients", or similar paramaters learned by an algorithm, after adopting the prescribed hyper-parameters. For example, decision trees of a random forest, the coefficients and intercept of a linear model, or the rotation and projection matrices of PCA reduction scheme.


Data-manipulating operations (methods) parameterized by some fit-result. For supervised learners, the predict, predict_mean, predict_median, or predict_mode methods; for transformers, the transform or inverse_transform method. An operation may also refer to an ordinary data-manipulating method that does not depend on a fit-result (e.g., a broadcasted logarithm) which is then called static operation for clarity. An operation that is not static is dynamic.

machine (object of type Machine)

An object consisting of:

(1) A model

(2) A fit-result (undefined until training)

(3) Training arguments (one for each data argument of the model's associated fit method). A training argument is data used for training. Generally, there are two training arguments for supervised models, and just one for unsuperivsed models. In a learning network (see below) the training arguments are nodes, instead of concrete data, but which can be called to (lazily) return concrete data.

In addition, machines store "report" metadata, for recording algorithm-specific statistics of training (eg, internal estimate of generalization error, feature importances); and they cache information allowing the fit-result to be updated without repeating unnecessary information.

Machines are trained by calls to a fit! method which may be passed an optional argument specifying the rows of data to be used in training.

Learning Networks and Composite Models

Note: Multiple machines in a learning network may share the same model, and multiple learning nodes may share the same machine.

source node (object of type Source)

A container for training data and point of entry for new data in a learning network (see below).

node (object of type Node)

Essentially a machine (whose arguments are possibly other nodes) wrapped in an associated operation (e.g., predict or inverse_transform). It consists primarily of:

  1. An operation, static or dynamic.
  2. A machine, or nothing if the operation is static.
  3. Upstream connections to other nodes, specified by a list of arguments (one for each argument of the operation). These are the arguments on which the operation "acts" when the node N is called, as in N().

learning network

An acyclic directed graph implicit in the connections of a collection of source(s) and nodes.


Any model with one or more other models as hyper-parameters.

composite model

Any wrapper, or any learning network, "exported" as a model (see Composing Models).