What is a Feature in Machine Learning and Data Science?

A feature is an individual measurable property within a recorded dataset. In machine learning and statistics, features are often called “variables” or “attributes.” Relevant features have a correlation or bearing (called feature importance) on a model’s use case. In a patient medical dataset, features could be age, gender, blood pressure, cholesterol level, and other observed characteristics relevant to the patient.

Features can be individual variables, derived variables, or combined attributes constructed from underlying data elements. Based on measures of blood pressure, plus cholesterol level, and other contributing factors, we can create an “engineered” feature that is categorical for purposes of identifying groups of observations into risk categories for stroke or heart disease, for example.

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