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Machine Unlearning #4 (Outlier Analysis)

Machine Unlearning is a series broken up into tiny, one-minute readable pieces to humor our ever-shortening attention span. Sharing the links to every single piece right below:


Let’s start with the example. We have the basket full of different fruits and we are sorting the fruits based on their distinctive properties, or features. What would happen if a coconut got mixed in the fruit basket that contained oranges, apples, bananas, cherries, and mangoes?


The coconut does not share any feature (color, shape, or size) with any of those fruits in the basket. Since there is only in coconut in the basket, it is not possible to create a separate group of coconuts. Such items in the group, which stand out or are distinctive than the others are generally termed outliers. Outliers are sometimes discarded as noise data in the study.


People who do not necessarily conform to the moral code as defined by the majority are often labeled and orchestrated as outliers by our society. A good example would be homosexuals, trans genders, and other queer people. The “normal” heterosexual community, who make up the majority, often show aversion in interacting with them. They are called names, made fun of, and are systematically sidelined from the center stage to the point that they themselves feel as if they are secondary citizens. While it is known that a person’s sexual preference is not their choice, some people are made to suffer for being who they are. 


Until recently, there was another set of misfortuned people who were treated as outliers by our very benevolent society. Widows. As if the sorrow of losing their partner was not harsh enough, we thought it is appropriate to confine them to the four walls of their rooms, literally stripping color off their lives, and excluding them from any social gatherings or events. Forget marrying another person, they were not even allowed to talk to one. Yet, they would have been grateful for such a baneful existence - since the other option was to jump to the burning pyre of their husband’s funeral and commit suicide.


Outliers or outcasts are brutal tools used to oppress the already oppressed. It takes only a nudge to push those who are at the edge of the cliff to the beyond. The falling noise would be the last you would hear of them. Instead, if you decide to stretch your arms for an embrace, things could create magic. Let's break some walls and build some bridges, shall we?


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