What do you mean by False Positive and False Negative?

Rahul S
2 min readApr 17, 2023
src: Google ML course

In machine learning, false positives and false negatives refer to errors made by a predictive model. These errors occur when a model predicts a result that is different from the actual result.

FALSE POSITIVE

A false positive occurs when a model predicts a positive outcome, but the actual result is negative. This means that the model has identified a non-existent pattern or signal in the data. False positives can lead to incorrect decisions, wasted resources, and missed opportunities.

A real-life example of a false positive in the context of machine learning can be found in medical diagnosis. Suppose a model is trained to identify whether a patient has a certain disease or not. A false positive occurs when the model predicts that a patient has the disease, but the patient is actually healthy. This can lead to unnecessary medical tests, treatments, and anxiety for the patient.

FALSE NEGATIVE

A false negative, on the other hand, occurs when a model predicts a negative outcome, but the actual result is positive. This means that the model has missed an existing pattern or signal in the data. False negatives can be dangerous in situations where a positive result is critical for decision-making.

A real-life example of a false negative in the context of machine learning can be found in credit card fraud detection. Suppose a model is trained to identify fraudulent transactions. A false negative occurs when the model fails to detect a fraudulent transaction, which can result in financial losses for the cardholder and the issuing bank.

In conclusion, false positives and false negatives are important concepts in machine learning as they affect the accuracy and reliability of predictive models. It is important to balance the trade-off between minimizing false positives and false negatives, depending on the context and consequences of the errors.

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