The Best Machine Learning Books in 2023 for Experts and Beginners

From a data scientist to a machine learning engineer, it’s essential that professionals have access to top-of-the-line machine learning books to gain knowledge and acquire untapped skills within their related fields.

Machine learning (ML) is the future of the modern workforce. In fact, the World Economic Forum predicts that artificial intelligence, which includes machine learning, will create 12 million new jobs across 26 countries by 2025. If you want to get ahead of the competition, now’s the best time to crack open a book and start absorbing some knowledge.

Machine learning books have been published to fuel your expertise and make you an indispensable asset in this rapidly evolving landscape. Reading the right books equips you with a toolbox of algorithms, insights and best practices that not only boost your employability but also offer you a fresh perspective on problem-solving. But first things first …


At Taylor & Francis, we publish machine learning books for all levels of study, from beginners to graduate students to experienced practitioners. Read on below to discover our top recommended books for machine learning at any level, beginning with fundamental concepts and ending with practical machine learning tool books.

Introductory material for beginners: What is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science that also encompasses deep learning and generative AI. It uses software applications — such as data, algorithms and intelligent systems — to imitate how humans learn, thereby becoming more accurate in predicting new output values over time. Essentially, the machine will learn by itself through predictive data analytics and data mining techniques.

The process of machine learning uses historical observations or data for pattern recognition, and then adjusts decisions based on those examples. This theoretically removes the need for human intervention or assistance, a feature that becomes even more nuanced when we delve into intelligent systems and generative AI.

Why is Machine Learning important?

Machine learning is an integral component of the increasingly important field of data science. It not only gives organizations an analytical view of customer behavior trends and operational patterns but also supports the creation and development of new products and services. For most industries, leveraging machine learning algorithms and concepts has become a decisive way to edge out competition and optimize future decision-making and key insights.

Big data grows larger each day and the market demand for data scientists and other professionals who understand machine learning correspondingly increases. If you’re looking to upskill and differentiate yourself from the pack, we’ve compiled the best books for understanding machine learning concepts.

The best Machine Learning books for beginners

A First Course in Machine Learning by Simon Rogers and Mark Girolami provides an essential, accessible introduction to machine learning for absolute beginners. With detailed explanations of the statistical learning methods and foundational concepts, this text is an integral part of any student’s introduction to machine learning techniques. This book also features updated examples of code utilizing Python and R.

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Machine Learning: An Algorithmic Perspective, Second Edition helps computer science students or those taking a machine learning course without a strong statistical background build the foundational knowledge needed to pursue a deeper understanding of the concept and provides better use of naming conventions in Python. This textbook is not only suitable for introductory material, but also as a stepping stone for more advanced courses.

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Machine Learning, Animated by Mark Liu is ideal for those who find machine learning to be a labyrinthine field. Here, the machine learning process is distilled into a triad: Initialize, adjust and repeat. Accompanied by step-by-step animations, this book renders the iterative learning process both understandable and engaging. The book elevates your skill set by teaching you how to create your own neural networks and apply them in diverse scenarios, from binary classifications to game strategies involving deep learning and reinforcement learning. Best of all, the material is presented in a way that doesn't require a heavy background in computer science or math, making it accessible to a wide audience.

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Machine Learning principles and techniques

The ultimate goal of machine learning is to enable computers and robots to learn, in other words, modify or adapt to become more accurate, without manual programming by humans. Simple in concept, but very complicated in practice. So where should you begin?

A great place to start is with the machine learning book, Machine Learning and its Applications. This text explores the principles and techniques of common machine learning, including Bayesian models, graphical models, supporting a vector machine, decision tree induction, regression analysis, and recurrent and convolutional neural networks. In this book, you can learn or relearn the essential fundamentals of machine learning and its various applications in the modern world.

The Three Main Classifications of Machine Learning

Understanding the types of machine learning models available can significantly shape the outcome of your projects, so let’s spotlight the three major classifications:

Supervised learning

Supervised learning refers to a machine learning model that is applied when labeled datasets are present. The computer then uses the labeled data to train and test each machine learning algorithm. This technique allows companies to solve various real-world problems at scale, such as discerning between a “spam” or “legitimate” email. Additionally, the machine uses the labeled data to apply its knowledge to future unlabeled data and make its own decisions.

Other methods used in supervised learning include linear regression, logistic regression, deep artificial neural networks, random forests, support vector machines (SVM) and more.

However, it’s important to note that labeling data is often a time-consuming and costly manual process for many companies.

Unsupervised learning

Unsupervised learning occurs when there is no labeled data present or available. The most popular unsupervised approach is called clustering.

Clustering refers to the process of understanding data by “finding the underlying structure of data.” Essentially, the computer will “cluster” groups of data together based on some similar measure. The book Machine Learning and its Applications by Peter Wlodarczak gives an example of this where a company groups online users into customer groups based on similar purchasing behavior and demographics. The similarities picked up by machine learning are purchasing habits and the age group. The company can then create an optimized marketing campaign to target specific demographics.

Clustering refers to the process of understanding data by “finding the underlying structure of data.” Essentially, the computer will “cluster” groups of data together based on some similar measure. Machine Learning and its Applications gives an example of this where a company groups online users into customer groups based on similar purchasing behavior and demographics. The similar measures recognized by Machine Learning are purchasing habits and the age group. The company can then create an optimized marketing campaign to target specific groups.

Clustering machine learning algorithms usually include either k-means clustering, hierarchical clustering or principal component analysis (PCA). All of which are thoroughly explored in Machine Learning and its Applications.

Since unsupervised learning can’t rely on labeled data, evaluating a cluster can be extremely challenging. There is no “ground truth” with which the clustering task can be compared with.

Semi-supervised learning

Semi-supervised learning offers a combination of supervised and unsupervised learning. It’s used when a small amount of labeled data and a large amount of unlabeled data is available to the computer. In this case, machine learning uses that smaller set of labeled data to “train” and create a supervised machine learning algorithm to apply to a portion of the unlabeled data. The trained model that gives the best results is then combined with the labeled data sets to continue training the model. Each time, the model theoretically improves in accuracy and results.

This can help companies who don’t have enough time or money to label all of their vast amounts of data. Instead, they can label a portion and let the machine learning system take over from there. Yet, this process does allow for human bias in the model, which should be noted.

Conversely, semi-supervised learning can also increase the accuracy of the model and even reveal new labels that weren’t previously identified.

Practical approaches to Machine Learning

Once you understand the basics, it’s equally important to understand what practical approaches can be used with machine learning. Machine Learning: Algorithms and Applications by Mohssen Mohammed, Muhammad Badruddin Khan and Eihab Bashier Mohammed Bashier digs into the numerous ways that Machine Learning has been applied in the past and is beginning to build toward in the future.

This machine learning book begins with the history of machine learning, as well as artificial intelligence as the larger category that houses machine learning. The term was created by Arthur Samuel in 1959 while he was working at IBM. He dictated that Machine Learning is a field of study “that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.” The authors then highlight Alan Turing’s first inquiry of whether a machine can think in 1955 — which is the start of artificial intelligence history and, consequently, machine learning.

Meanwhile — as we briefly mentioned earlier — within a further subset of machine learning, there's deep learning, which aims to train a machine to learn based on how our own brains learn. For more information on deep learning techniques, consider Deep Learning in Practice by Mehdi Ghayoumi.

Diagram showing relationship between Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning

Above is a graphic to better understand these three categories and their relationship with each other. Artificial intelligence mirrors the intellectual abilities and behavioral patterns of humans. Machine learning is the process through which a machine learns from data without the benefit of a detailed set of rules. Deep learning is the method of achieving machine learning that is modeled on the human neural network.

Data Mining vs. Machine Learning

In Machine Learning: Algorithms and Applications, the authors note that there’s no clear distinction between data mining (DM) and machine learning in most literature. They define data mining as the “process of discovering patterns in data.”

Some publications highlight that there is a difference: data mining extracts data patterns and finds relationships between them, meanwhile, machine learning extracts data patterns and makes predictions. In other words, the difference is in the aim of data mining and machine learning. For future clarity, the book treats machine learning as a subarea of data mining where “the rules are learned automatically.”

Data Mining Steps

There are four main steps to data mining:

  1. Data collection: Define data sources, extract data and store data.
  2. Data pre-processing: Data cleansing and data deduplication.
  3. Data analysis: Train models, evaluate models and predictive analytics.
  4. Data post-processing: Data visualization, reporting and trend analysis.

Data mining is usually a repetitive process that goes through many iterations until the best (most accurate) results are achieved.

What is Text Mining in Machine Learning?

Text mining is “a knowledge-intensive process in which a user interacts with a collection of documents by using analytic tools in order to identify and explore interesting patterns.” This process is typically applied in marketing, competitive intelligence, health care, banking, manufacturing, natural sciences, security and many more domains.

If you’re interested in discovering more about data mining, a great book to explore is Text Mining with Machine Learning: Principles and Techniques :by Jan Žižka, František Dařena and Arnošt Svoboda. This book dives into text mining, a subset of data mining. It explains several text mining tasks that are most commonly used in a machine learning model:

  • Categorization of documents: Assigning a document to one or more predefined categories.
  • Clustering: Grouping documents according to their similarity.
  • Summarization: Finding the most important parts in one or more documents and creating a text that is significantly shorter than the original.
  • Information retrieval: Retrieving documents that match a query representing information needed from a large collection of documents.
  • Extracting the meaning of documents or their parts: Identifying hidden topics, analyzing sentiment, opinion or emotions.
  • Information extraction: Extracting structured information like entities, events or relations from unstructured texts.
  • Association mining: Finding associations between fundamental concepts or terms in texts.
  • Trend analysis: Looking at how concepts contained in documents change over time.
  • Machine translation: Converting a text written in one language to a text in another language.

For a concise and accessible introduction to text analytics or text mining, Text Analytics: An Introduction to the Science and Applications of Unstructured Information Analysis by John Atkinson-Abutridy introduces the main concepts, models, and computational techniques that enable the reader to solve real decision-making problems arising from textual and/or documentary sources.

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Syntactic vs. semantics

The authors of this book emphasize that computers are only able to analyze the syntactic aspect of texts. Basically, they can recognize how words are arranged in documents, based on our language rules, such as grammar, when conducting natural language processing.

Meanwhile, humans are able to understand the semantic aspect of texts. This is the meaning of a word or group of words in a context.

Thankfully, computers don’t have to have a full understanding of a text to solve practical problems since syntax and semantics are often close or the same. For example, if two separate texts use the same words and syntactic structures, they’re likely to carry the same semantic meaning. The computer would classify them in the same class of documents, which would most likely be correct.

The Best Machine Learning Books

Want to learn even more about machine learning? We’ve sectioned out the best machine learning books to expand your knowledge in each subject area:

Practitioner resources and machine learning applications

The Chapman & Hall/CRC Press Machine Learning & Pattern Recognition Series, edited by Ralf Herbrich and Thore Graepel is a great resource for students and practitioners at any level. Each book in this series reflects the latest advances and applications in machine learning and pattern recognition.

Data Science and Machine Learning: Mathematical and Statistical Method, co-written by Dirk P. Kroese, Zdravko Botev, Thomas Taimre and Radislav Vaisman, presents a comprehensive look into the mathematics behind modern statistical learning techniques. This book also includes many concrete algorithms with Python code. 

“This book will be excellent for those that want to build a strong mathematical foundation for their knowledge on the main machine learning techniques, and at the same time get python recipes on how to perform the analyses for worked examples."
 - Victor Moreno, ISCB News, December 2020

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Machine Learning for Cloud Management by Jitendra Kumar, Ashutosh Kumar Singh, Anand Mohan and Rajkumar Buyya is ideal for a focus on cloud management. Want to dive deeper into cloud computing? This textbook explores cloud resource management through predictive modeling and virtual machine placement.

Written by leading international researchers, this is the first book to set out a range of machine learning methods for efficient resource management in a large distributed network of clouds.

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Deep learning and neural networks

Deep Learning in Practice by Mehdi Ghayoumi is written for undergraduate and graduate students alike. It teaches students how to develop and optimize a model for machine learning projects that use deep learning methods and architectures.

This book will serve as a useful reference for learning deep learning fundamentals and implementing a deep learning model for any project, step by step.

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Deep Learning and Linguistic Representation, Shalom Lappin highlights the applications of deep learning systems and interesting natural language processing (NLP) tasks. It also guides students through an analysis of the way humans acquire and represent linguistic knowledge.

“In this clearly written book, Shalom Lappin tackles the novel and exciting question of what are their implications for theories of language acquisition, representation and usage.
- Marco Baroni, ICREA Research Professor, Facebook AI Research Scientist

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Practical machine learning tools

Hands-On Machine Learning with R by Brad Boehmke and Brandon M. Greenwell is a practitioner’s guide to the machine learning process. Written to help the student apply the machine learning stack within R, this book is filled with concrete examples and approaches to machine learning.

"Hands-On Machine Learning with R is a great resource for understanding and applying models. Each section provides descriptions and instructions using a wide range of R packages."

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Supervised Machine Learning for Text Analysis in R by Emil Hvitfeldt and Julia Silge offers students a full picture of how to preprocess text data for modeling, train models and evaluate model performance using tools from the tidyverse and tidymodels ecosystem.

Data scientists and computational linguists would be a prime audience for this kind of publication and would most likely use it as both, (coding) reference and a textbook."
- Kasia Kulma, data science consultant

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Introduction to Machine Learning

A Concise Introduction to Machine Learning by Anita Faul, …”aims to present a concise yet rigorous introduction to several basic topics in machine learning. The concepts and algorithms are comprehensively explained with intuition and illustrative examples in MATLAB, using mathematics as the common language. The focus is on why and how an algorithm works.

"This book covers the mathematical foundation, the techniques and applications in machine learning well. It may be useful for readers with some background in mathematics who wish to extend themselves in statistics and machine learning, such as statisticians, graduate and senior undergraduate students."
-- Shuangzhe Liu, Professor, University of Canberra

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Introduction to Machine Learning with Applications in Information Security by Mark Stamp offers a rich, panoramic view of machine learning and deep learning algorithms through the lens of information security. While some texts get bogged down with theorems and intricate math, Mark Stamp’s approach is hands-on and practical. The book dives into a broad spectrum of topics, from classics like Hidden Markov Models (HMM) and the Support Vector Machine (SVM) to trending deep learning architectures like Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) and Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM).

Notably, the book's examples are rooted in information security scenarios, making it a go-to resource for applying machine learning to cybersecurity tasks. While a modest level of computing experience will help you get the most out of the exercises, the book's real-world applications make it a compelling read for anyone interested in how machine learning intersects with digital security.

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Machine learning with Python

Linear Models with Python offers up-to-date insight on essential data analysis topics, from estimation, inference and prediction to missing data, factorial models and block designs. Numerous examples illustrate how to apply the different methods using Python.

A reader coming to this book from a machine learning background will learn new statistical perspectives on learning from data.

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Advanced Data Science and Analytics with Python by Jesus Rogel-Salazar enables data scientists to continue developing their skills and apply them in business as well as academic settings.

The aim is to cover important advanced areas in data science using tools developed in Python such as SciKit-learn, Pandas, Numpy, Beautiful Soup, NLTK, NetworkX and others.

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A Tour of Data Science: Learn R and Python in Parallel by Nailong Zhang covers the fundamentals of data science, including programming, statistics, optimization and machine learning in a single short book.

This title will appeal to data scientists, statisticians, quantitative analysts and others who want to learn programming with R and Python from a data science perspective

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Python Packages introduces Python packaging at an introductory and practical level that’s suitable for those with no previous packaging experience.

This book focuses on the use of current and best-practice packaging tools and services like poetry, cookiecutter, pytest, sphinx, GitHub and GitHub Actions.

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Never Stop Learning, Explore More With Routledge

​​Our curation of titles offers in-depth examination of algorithms, quantitative analysis of data models and meticulous exploration of machine learning applications. These books equip you with skills and insights to implement change and drive results.

If you’re interested, you have two immediate ways to broaden your understanding:

As we’ve established, machine learning powers the engine behind new developments in automation, data analytics and AI. Cracking its code becomes less daunting with a curated library at your fingertips. We aim to support you in this journey, offering resources that bolster your skills while aligning with your professional growth. Contact us to learn more.