Google introduces new machine learning addon for Google Sheets

Google introduces new machine learning addon for Google Sheets

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Google LLC today launched a new tool that will enable users to develop artificial intelligence models in Google Sheets.

The tool, dubbed Simple ML, is available in beta. It’s provided as an addon to Google Sheets that users can download at no charge. Simple ML was created by one of the Google teams responsible for developing TensorFlow, a popular open-source AI tool that the search giant released in 2015.

Simple ML doesn’t require machine learning knowledge to use, Google detailed today. The addon is accessible through a panel in the Google Sheets interface that users can configure without writing code. 

“Anyone, even people without programming or ML expertise, can experiment and apply some of the power of machine learning to their data in Google Sheets with just a few clicks,” engineers from the Google team that developed the tool detailed in a blog post today. “From small business owners, scientists, and students to business analysts at large corporations, anyone familiar with Google Sheets can make valuable predictions automatically.”

To train AI models with Simple ML, users must first create a Google Sheets spreadsheet with a collection of data points organized in rows and columns. Then, users must specify what task they wish to perform with Simple ML. From there, the tool will automatically train one or more AI models capable of performing the specified task.

On launch, Simple ML supports two AI use cases. The first use case is filling empty spreadsheet fields, while the other is identifying fields that may contain erroneous data. 

A retailer might use Google Sheets to create a spreadsheet that lists the products currently available in its catalog and their respective prices. If some of the product prices are missing, Simple ML can automatically add them to the spreadsheet. It does so by generating an AI model that deduces what information an empty spreadsheet field should contain by analyzing existing data points in the file. 

The second use case that Simple ML supports is identifying anomalous data points. The addon can, for example, determine if a snippet of text has been accidentally added to a spreadsheet field that should contain a numerical value. Simple ML detects data anomalies by generating no fewer than 10 AI models that automatically evaluate the accuracy of the information in a spreadsheet. 

“After a few seconds, once the model has made a prediction, you can explore using the result to improve your business decisions, automate tasks, or do any of the seemingly endless applications that ML enables,” Google’s engineers detailed. 

Simple ML also includes a set of features for advanced users. According to Google, the tool provides technical data about the AI models that it generates and makes it possible to test their accuracy. In addition, Simple ML enables users to send AI models to Colab, a cloud-based code editor developed by Google that lends itself to  machine learning and data science projects.

Simple ML is available alongside Connected Sheets, another advanced data processing tool that Google offers for Google Sheets. It provides the ability to analyze information stored in the search giant’s BigQuery cloud data warehouse via the Google Sheets interface. The tool enables users to process up to billions of spreadsheet rows without writing SQL queries. 

Image: Google

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