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Structured prediction

(also structured output learning)

Structured prediction definition

Structured prediction is a guided machine learning process in which the objective is to establish a relationship between an input domain and a connected, organized output domain. This method is frequently employed when output variables exhibit interdependencies that require modeling. Structured prediction is distinct from conventional machine learning tasks, such as classification or regression, which focus on more straightforward, fixed-size outputs.

See also: artificial intelligence, machine learning

Structured prediction examples

  • Natural language processing: part-of-speech tagging, named entity recognition, and parsing are tasks where the input is a sequence of words and the output is a sequence of labels, tree structures, or graphs that represent linguistic properties.
  • Computer vision: image segmentation, object detection, and pose estimation are tasks where the input is an image and the output is a partitioning of the image, bounding boxes, or joint positions that represent semantic or structural properties.

Comparison to other machine learning tasks

  • Classification: In classification, the output is a single class label, while structured prediction deals with complex structured outputs.
  • Regression: In regression, the output is a continuous value, whereas structured prediction generates structured outputs that can have discrete or continuous components.

Pros and cons of structured prediction


  • Captures complex dependencies between output variables.
  • Allows for better modeling of real-world problems with interdependent outputs.


  • Computationally expensive compared to simpler machine learning tasks.
  • Requires specialized algorithms and representations.

Tips for using structured prediction

  • Choose appropriate models, like conditional random fields, structured support vector machines, or recurrent neural networks, depending on the problem.
  • Leverage domain knowledge to design meaningful features and output structures.