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AI For Beginners, Part I: A Glossary of Terms

September 30, 2020
Cognistx Staff

A Beginner’s Guide to AI: Glossary of Terms, Part I

Artificial Intelligence – referred to as simply AI – transforms our daily lives in ways most of us don’t even realize.

It powers our emails, the shows we watch on Netflix, the songs we listen to on Spotify, and the products we receive from companies worldwide.AI is at the center of our society’s digital transformation and knowing what it is and how it works will help you stay in the game.

Cognistx’s data scientists put together a glossary of terms to ease you into the world of AI. There are more words and complex AI functions. However, these AI terms will provide a solid foundation to build on.  

In future blogs, we’ll cover how AI is applied in our daily lives and how we use AI to improve how businesses provide services, manufacture goods and enhance their overall efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science focused on building smart machines and software capable of performing tasks that require human intelligence.


In very simple terms, an algorithm is a set of mathematical rules applied to perform specific calculations. It’s like the recipe for a dish. Algorithms are written to determine a particular outcome, much like a recipe provides the steps to make or bake something delicious.


A bot is a software application that is programmed to perform a set of tasks automatically. Bots are used to replace repetitive tasks. Many company websites, for example, offer chatbots to manage basic customer service questions quickly. For more complicated issues, customers are directed to a live representative.

Computer Vision (CV)

Computer vision is a computer’s ability to see and understand things. It’s a field of study that seeks to create techniques to help computers recognize and analyze content.

Data – BIG Data

Data is all that information – numbers, works, images, clicks – we generate. If you’re a manufacturer, data could refer to your client information, purchase orders, customer payment information, shipping details, etc. If you’re a restaurant, data could be food orders, receipts, reservations, deliveries, takeout orders and dine-in service.

Data Science

Data science is the process of obtaining insights and information from studying data. Think about all the potential ideas you could get from analyzing emails, purchase orders, customer feedback, support tickets, etc. At Cognistx, we use AI to develop business insights for our clients, whether it’s predicting their needs, improving deliveries, speeding up the process of analyzing loan applications, or enhancing services to the end consumer.

Deep Learning

Deep Learning is a Machine Learning (see below)technique that enables a computer to learn through the absorption of data such as images, video, and text. “Deep learning is a subset of machine learning where artificial neural networks, algorithms inspired by the human brain, learn from large amounts of data. Similarly to how we learn from experience, the deep learning algorithm would perform a task repeatedly, each time tweaking it a little to improve the outcome. “ – Forbes article on Deep Learning.

Machine Learning

Machine Learning is the science of teaching computers to learn and perform like humans. It also involves teaching the computer to improve over time by providing data and information that it can learn from.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Natural language processing helps computers understand, interpret, and manipulate human language. Gmail uses NLP to help you write emails by anticipating how you plan to finish a sentence.

Neural Networks

Neural Networks teaches computers to imitate the human brain's workings processing data. For example, Neural Networks are used in the technology behind driverless cars, enabling them to recognize a stop sign or distinguish a pedestrian from a lamppost.

Speech Recognition

Voice or speech recognition enables computers to interpret dictation and understand and carry out spoken commands. We see SpeechRecognition used with great success with Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa. “Siri, call home” or “Alexa play my party playlist.”

Text Mining

Text mining is an automatic process that uses NaturalLanguage Processing (NLP) to extract valuable insights by classifying texts by sentiment, topic, and intent.

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