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Data Normalization Machine Learning

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Normalization is an essential step in the preprocessing of data for machine learning models, and it is a feature scaling technique. Normalization is especially crucial for data manipulation, scaling down, or up the range of data before it is utilized for subsequent stages in the fields of soft computing, cloud computing, etc. Min-max scaling and Z-Score Normalisation (Standardisation) are the two methods most frequently used for normalization in feature scaling.

Normalization is scaling the data to be analyzed to a specific range such as [0.0, 1.0] to provide better results.

What is Data Normalization?

Data normalization is a vital pre-processing, mapping, and scaling method that helps forecasting and prediction models become more accurate. The current data range is transformed into a new, standardized range using this method. Normalization is extremely important when it comes to bringing disparate prediction and forecasting techniques into harmony. Data normalization improves the consistency and comparability of different predictive models by standardizing the range of independent variables or features within a dataset, leading to more steady and dependable results.

Normalisation, which involves reshaping numerical columns to conform to a standard scale, is essential for datasets with different units or magnitudes across different features. Finding a common scale for the data while maintaining the intrinsic variations in value ranges is the main goal of normalization. This usually entails rescaling the features to a standard range, which is typically between 0 and 1. Alternatively, the features can be adjusted to have a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1.

Z-Score Normalisation (Standardisation) and Min-Max Scaling are two commonly used normalisation techniques. In order to enable more insightful and precise analyses in a variety of predictive modelling scenarios, these techniques are essential in bringing disparate features to a comparable scale.

Why do we need Data Normalization in Machine Learning?

There are several reasons for the need for data normalization as follows:

  • Normalisation is essential to machine learning for a number of reasons. Throughout the learning process, it guarantees that every feature contributes equally, preventing larger-magnitude features from overshadowing others.
  • It enables faster convergence of algorithms for optimisation, especially those that depend on gradient descent. Normalisation improves the performance of distance-based algorithms like k-Nearest Neighbours.
  • Normalisation improves overall performance by addressing model sensitivity problems in algorithms such as Support Vector Machines and Neural Networks.
  • Because it assumes uniform feature scales, it also supports the use of regularisation techniques like L1 and L2 regularisation.
  • In general, normalisation is necessary when working with attributes that have different scales; otherwise, the effectiveness of a significant attribute that is equally important (on a lower scale) could be diluted due to other attributes having values on a larger scale.

Data Normalization Techniques

Min-Max normalization:

This method of normalising data involves transforming the original data linearly. The data’s minimum and maximum values are obtained, and each value is then changed using the formula that follows.

X_{\text{normalization}} = \frac{X - X_{\text{min}}}{X_{\text{max}} - X_{\text{min}}}

The formula works by subtracting the minimum value from the original value to determine how far the value is from the minimum. Then, it divides this difference by the range of the variable (the difference between the maximum and minimum values).

This division scales the variable to a proportion of the entire range. As a result, the normalized value falls between 0 and 1.

  • When the feature X is at its minimum, the normalized value (X'  ) is 0. This is because the numerator becomes zero.
  • Conversely, when X is at its maximum, X'  is 1, indicating full-scale normalization.
  • For values between the minimum and maximum, X'  ranges between 0 and 1, preserving the relative position of X within the original range.

Normalisation through decimal scaling:

The data is normalised by shifting the decimal point of its values. By dividing each data value by the maximum absolute value of the data, we can use this technique to normalise the data. The following formula is used to normalise the data value, v, of the data to v’:

v' = \frac{v}{10^j} 

where v'  is the normalized value,v  is the original value, and j  is the smallest integer such that \max(|X'|) < 1  . This formula involves dividing each data value by an appropriate power of 10 to ensure that the resulting normalized values are within a specific range.

Normalisation of Z-score or Zero Mean (Standardisation):

Using the mean and standard deviation of the data, values are normalised in this technique to create a standard normal distribution (mean: 0, standard deviation: 1). The equation that is applied is:

Z = \frac{X - \mu}{\sigma}

\mu  is the mean of the data A σ  is the standard deviation.

Difference Between Normalization and Standardization



Normalization scales the values of a feature to a specific range, often between 0 and 1.

Standardization scales the features to have a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1.

Applicable when the feature distribution is uncertain.

Effective when the data distribution is Gaussian.

Susceptible to the influence of outliers

Less affected by the presence of outliers.

Maintains the shape of the original distribution

Alters the shape of the original distribution.

Scales values to ranges like [0, 1].

Scale values are not constrained to a specific range.

When to use Normalization and Standardization?

The kind of data being used and the particular needs of the machine learning algorithm being used will determine whether to use normalization or standardization.

When the data distribution is unknown or non-Gaussian, normalization—which is frequently accomplished through MinMax scaling—is especially helpful. It works well in situations when maintaining the distribution’s original shape is essential. Since this method scales values between [0, 1], it can be used in applications where a particular range is required. Normalisation is more susceptible to outliers, so it might not be the best option when there are extreme values.

However, when the distribution of the data is unknown or assumed to be Gaussian, standardization—achieved through Z-score normalization—is preferred. Values can be more freely chosen because standardisation does not limit them to a predetermined range. Additionally, because it is less susceptible to outliers, it can be used with datasets that contain extreme values. Although standardisation modifies the initial distribution shape, it is beneficial in situations where preserving the relationships between data points is crucial.

Advantages of Data Normalization

Several benefits come with data normalisation:

  • More clustered indexes could potentially be produced.
  • Index searching was accelerated, which led to quicker data retrieval.
  • Quicker data modification commands.
  • The removal of redundant and null values to produce more compact data.
  • Reduction of anomalies resulting from data modification.
  • Conceptual clarity and simplicity of upkeep, enabling simple adaptations to changing needs.
  • Because more rows can fit on a data page with narrower tables, searching, sorting, and index creation are more efficient.

Disadvantages of Data Normalization

There are various drawbacks to normalizing a database. A few disadvantages are as follows: 

  • It gets harder to link tables together when the information is spread across multiple ones. It gets even more interesting to identify the database.
  • Given that rewritten data is saved as lines of numbers rather than actual data, tables will contain codes rather than actual data. That means that you have to keep checking the query table.
  • This information model is very hard to query because it is meant for programmes, not ad hoc queries. Operating system friendly query devices frequently perform this function. It is composed of SQL that has been accumulated over time. If you don’t first understand the needs of the client, it may be challenging to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.
  • Compared to a typical structural type, the show’s pace gradually slows down.
  • A comprehensive understanding of the various conventional structures is essential to completing the standardisation cycle successfully. Careless use can lead to a poor plan with significant anomalies and inconsistent data.


To summarise, one of the most important aspects of machine learning preprocessing is data normalisation, which can be achieved by using techniques such as Min-Max Scaling and Z-Score Normalisation. This procedure, which is necessary for equal feature contribution, faster convergence, and improved model performance, necessitates a careful decision between Z-Score Normalisation and Min-Max Scaling based on the particulars of the data. Both strategies have trade-offs, such as increased complexity and possible performance consequences, even though they offer advantages like clustered indexes and faster searches. Making an informed choice between normalisation techniques depends on having a solid grasp of both the nature of the data and the particular needs of the machine learning algorithm being used.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why data normalization is important for machine learning?

For machine learning, data normalisation is essential because it guarantees that each feature contributes equally, keeps features with higher magnitudes from dominating, speeds up the convergence of optimisation algorithms, and improves the performance of distance-based algorithms. For better model performance, it lessens sensitivity to feature scales and supports regularisation techniques.

2. What are the limitations of data normalization?

While beneficial, data normalization has limitations. It can be computationally expensive, slow to converge to the true value function, and affected by the exploration policy chosen. Furthermore, normalization may not be appropriate in all situations, and its effectiveness is dependent on the nature of the data as well as the specific requirements of the machine learning algorithm.

3. Does normalization improve accuracy?

In machine learning, normalization can improve model accuracy. It ensures that all features contribute equally, prevents larger-magnitude features from dominating, aids convergence in optimization algorithms, and improves distance-based algorithm performance. When dealing with features on different scales, normalization is especially useful.

4. Which normalization is best?

The choice of normalisation method is determined by the data and context. Min-Max Scaling (MinMaxScaler) is good for preserving specific ranges, whereas Z-Score Normalisation (StandardScaler) is good for preserving mean and standard deviation. The best method depends on the machine learning task’s specific requirements.

5. Does normalization reduce bias?

Normalisation does not eliminate bias on its own. It balances feature scales, preventing large-magnitude features from dominating. To ensure fair and unbiased representations in machine learning systems, bias must be carefully considered in the model, data collection, and feature engineering.

Last Updated : 06 Dec, 2023
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