Gans calls these ‘prediction machines’, because these algorithms make forecasts about the outcomes of decisions and optimise accordingly (based on definable trends in behavioural data).

In this sentence 'optimise' seems to be used as an intransitive verb since there's no objective for it. Can this be possible? If so, what does it mean?


3 Answers 3


If so, what does it mean?

This sort of transitive conversion is used to focus on the activity and not the object. When you want to talk about the order of operations in some methodology, and aren't too worried about any specific implementation, it is very common. This change in focus differentiates this type of one-argument verb from a pure object deletion case, where there isn't any change in focus.

In the example sentence, it is the methodology itself that is being used to define the term prediction machine, so that is where the focus lies. And you don't really have an example object to use as a DO until after you have defined the class.


The salient portion of the sentence is:

algorithms make forecasts ... and optimise

The object of optimize is implied: the algorithm optimizes neural network performance by minimizing an error function.


I believe this question is relevant to an Artificial Intelligence technique termed "GAN". A GAN is a "Generative Adversarial Network". A GAN is, from a rather simple viewpoint, an algorithm that self-alters.

MIT Technology review

Knowing this, the sentence might be understood to have an implied object: "... these algorithms ... and optimise (themselves) accordingly ..."

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