Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 121–167

A Tutorial on Support Vector Machines for Pattern Recognition

  • Christopher J.C. Burges

DOI: 10.1023/A:1009715923555

Cite this article as:
Burges, C.J. Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery (1998) 2: 121. doi:10.1023/A:1009715923555


The tutorial starts with an overview of the concepts of VC dimension and structural risk minimization. We then describe linear Support Vector Machines (SVMs) for separable and non-separable data, working through a non-trivial example in detail. We describe a mechanical analogy, and discuss when SVM solutions are unique and when they are global. We describe how support vector training can be practically implemented, and discuss in detail the kernel mapping technique which is used to construct SVM solutions which are nonlinear in the data. We show how Support Vector machines can have very large (even infinite) VC dimension by computing the VC dimension for homogeneous polynomial and Gaussian radial basis function kernels. While very high VC dimension would normally bode ill for generalization performance, and while at present there exists no theory which shows that good generalization performance is guaranteed for SVMs, there are several arguments which support the observed high accuracy of SVMs, which we review. Results of some experiments which were inspired by these arguments are also presented. We give numerous examples and proofs of most of the key theorems. There is new material, and I hope that the reader will find that even old material is cast in a fresh light.

support vector machinesstatistical learning theoryVC dimensionpattern recognition

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J.C. Burges
    • 1
  1. 1.Bell Laboratories, Lucent TechnologiesUSA.