principal component analysis

What is Principal Component Analysis (PCA)

Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is an algorithm for dimensionality reduction, which basically simplify complex datasets.

Moreover, it transforms a set of correlated variables into a smaller set of uncorrelated variables called Principal Components (PCs). These PCs capture the maximum variance in the data while reducing dimensionality.

In other words, PCA is like a camera angle that captures the most critical information in a dataset. Furthermore, it allows us to compress data without losing much information, which makes it easier to analyze and visualize the data.

Real-Life Example of Principal Component Analysis

For instance, imagine a wine company that evaluates wines based on 15 different attributes.

By using PCA, the company can reduce these 13 attributes to a smaller number of PCs that still capture the majority of the variance in the data.

Therefore, the company can simultaneously understand better the quality of wine and customer preferences.

Code Implementation Using Python

We’re also going to apply the example we described above in python code here using the popular Wine dataset from the UCI Machine Learning Repository.

Furthermore, we’re going to use PCA to reduce the 13 wine attributes to 2 principal components.

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from sklearn.decomposition import PCA
from sklearn.preprocessing import StandardScaler
from sklearn.datasets import load_wine

# Load the Wine dataset
wine_data = load_wine()
X, y =,

# Standardize the data
scaler = StandardScaler()
X_scaled = scaler.fit_transform(X)

# Apply PCA
pca = PCA(n_components=2)
X_pca = pca.fit_transform(X_scaled)

# Visualize the PCA results
plt.scatter(X_pca[:, 0], X_pca[:, 1], c=y, cmap='viridis')
plt.title('Wine Dataset PCA')

What Type of Data Should Be Used for Principal Component Analysis?

PCA works best with continuous numeric variables. Moreover, it’s essential to standardize the data before applying PCA to ensure that each variable contributes equally to the analysis.

Why Do We Use It in Machine Learning?

We use PCA in machine learning for:

  1. Reducing dimensionality: This helps prevent overfitting and speeds up model training.
  2. Visualizing high-dimensional data: PCA makes it easier to explore patterns and trends in the data.
  3. Feature extraction: PCA can help in extracting new features that better represent the underlying structure of the data.

Benefits of Using PCA

PCA offers several advantages:

  1. Improved computational efficiency: Reducing dimensions speeds up model training and prediction.
  2. Reduced noise: PCA can help in filtering out noise and enhancing the signal in the data.
  3. Enhanced data visualization: PCA allows us to visualize high-dimensional data in 2D or 3D plots.


To conclude, principal component analysis is a powerful technique for dimensionality reduction in machine learning.

By understanding how PCA works and how to interpret its results, we can leverage its benefits to improve our models, enhance data visualization, and ultimately, deliver more value from our machine learning projects.

Share this article:

Related posts