I'm trying to figure out who coined the term "machine learning". An ancillary question is from where is Arthur Samuel cited as defining the field of "machine learning" in 1959 as:

the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed


You can find many, many references to this definition on the internet, but I haven't been able to track down the source. Some give it as his 1959 paper on checkers, but I don't find any such definition there.

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    $\begingroup$ Did you search Google Books? Arthur Samuel uses the phrase in The New Yorker and Office Management the same year. He is apparently also interviewed in the Daily Telegraph 21st July 1959. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2015 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I've been going through Google Books to find the first usage of the term machine learning. Can you send a link to those New Yorker and Office Management references? When I search Google Books with the quote and restrict to that decade, I don't get any results. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2015 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ Small update: I searched the archives of The New Yorker, and I find one article with Arthur Samuel in the Aug 29, 1959 issue, but it does not contain the quote in question. Does anyone have access to archives of Office Management or Daily Telegraph from 1959? I'm afraid I don't... $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2015 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ The Proceedings of the UNESCO International Conference on Information Processing from June 1959 has a chapter called "Pattern recognition and machine learning". One of the papers presented there is titled "Experiments in machine learning and thinking", which suggests the term predates that work. $\endgroup$
    – rphv
    Jan 28, 2015 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I also came across this conference before. It would be really interesting to read that paper, but I could only find it for sale in hardcopy. My earliest reference to "machine learning" is still 1953, but it is not so detailed, just a mention. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2015 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


"Programming computers to learn from experience should eventually eliminate the need for much of this detailed programming effort" Samuel, A. L. (1959), “Some Studies in Machine Learning Using the Game of Checkers” in IBM Journal of Research and Development (Volume:3, Issue: 3), p. 210

  • $\begingroup$ That's not exactly the same as the quote above, is it? $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 6:22
  • $\begingroup$ The quote above is an interpretation of quote written in the article. $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2017 at 9:04
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but I'm not understanding you. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2018 at 15:22

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