Machine Learning
Kushagra Arora
May 10, 2024
min read

Everything You Must Know About Data Normalization in Machine Learning

Kushagra Arora
May 10, 2024

Data normalization in machine learning is a process of converting all data features into a standardized format, ensuring that all variables in the data have a similar range. It is crucial in preparing the data for machine learning algorithms.

For example, in Python using Scikit-learn, a software machine-learning library, you can normalize data using the function: preprocessing.normalize(). This function scales each vector into a unit norm, ensuring that the vectors have a length of one.

Database normalization is significant in the data pre-processing phase as it improves the model performance by eliminating biases and inconsistencies in the data. The process speeds up model training, improves model convergence, and reduces the impact of outliers to avoid outcome biases. 

Let’s understand the impact of normalization on model training and predictions in detail. 

The Need for Normalization

Data normalization in machine learning is crucial for the ML algorithms to perform better. Here are some reasons why:

need_for_normalization-in machine learning

A. Improves Convergence During Model Training

ML algorithms often depend on iterative optimization methods to determine the best parameters for the model. When the data has varying scales, model convergence slows down. Here, data normalization addresses this issue by transforming the data into comparable scales, ensuring efficient and effective model optimization.

B. Scales Features to a Standard Range 

Database normalization scales features to a standard range, typically between 0 and 1, ensuring that all features are on a similar comparable scale. This helps datasets with diverse units and magnitudes across features to equally contribute, preventing the features with large numerical values from overshadowing the smaller ranges. As a result, it prevents biases, ensuring more reliable and accurate model predictions.

C. Mitigating the Influence of Outliers

Outliers are values that lie far from the majority of the data. These values significantly impact model training. With data normalization in machine learning, the impact of outliers can be mitigated by scaling the data as per the majority distribution. Thus, it reduces the outliers’ influence on the model’s decision-making.

D. Helps with Model Training and Predictions

ML models trained on normalized data perform better than those trained on unprocessed data. Data normalization in machine learning ensures that the data lies within a certain range, eliminating the domination of specific features over the rest. Thus, it improves the performance of distance-based algorithms like k-nearest neighbors and helps models converge faster, enhancing stability during model training and prediction accuracy.

Types of Normalization Techniques

1. Min-Max Scaling

This is a fundamental data normalization technique that is often simply called ‘normalization.’ This technique transforms features to a specific range, typically between 0 and 1. The formula for min-max scaling is:

Xnormalized = X – Xmin / Xmax – Xmin


  • X is a random feature value that needs to be normalized.
  • Xmin is the dataset’s minimum feature value and Xmax is the maximum.
  • When X is minimum, the numerator is 0 (Xmin- Xmin) the normalized value is 0.
  • When X is maximum, the numerator and denominator are equal (Xmax– Xmin) and the normalized value is 1.
  • When X is neither minimum nor maximum, the normalized value lies between 0 and 1.

2. Z-Score Standardization

The Z-score normalization (standardization) technique normalizes every value in a dataset and transforms the feature values to have a mean (μ) of 0 and a standard deviation (σ) of 1. The formula for Z-score normalization is:

Xstandardized = X−μ / σ


  • X = Original value
  • μ = Mean of data
  • σ = Standard deviation of data

3. Robust Scaling

This data normalization technique is used when datasets contain outliers. The method utilizes median and interquartile ranges instead of mean and standard deviation to handle the impact of outliers on model training. This method is also suitable for datasets with anomalous and skewed values. The formula for robust scaling is:

Xnew = X – Xmedian/ IQR

Here, IQR is the Interquartile range, meaning the distance between the 25th and 50th percentile points.

Python Code Implementation

Scikit-learn, a Python library, offers a rich set of tools and functionalities, such as data pre-processing, feature selection, model building and training, evaluation, etc., to implement advanced methodologies and experiment with fundamental concepts. Here’s how to implement Python code:

1. Data Preparation

The first step involves importing the necessary libraries and loading the dataset to understand its distribution.

Python Code Implementation

Now, we can implement normalization techniques to the dataset. But, before that, it is a good practice to segregate the data into two sets - training and test sets. Use the train_test_split function from sklearn.model_selection to do so.

2. Implementing Normalization Techniques

After dividing the data into test and train sets, datasets are cleaned using different data cleansing techniques to handle outliers and missing values. Then, normalization techniques are implemented.

In this step, we implement the normalization technique min-max scaling using the functionality MinMaxScaler from the Scikit-learn library and apply it to the dataset.

Implementing Normalization Techniques

Similarly, we can apply the z-score normalization technique to the dataset.

z-score normalization technique

To implement a robust scaling technique, first, we must convert categorical features to numerical ones through the LeaveOneOutEncoder in categorical_encoders. This converts each existing categorical feature into a numerical feature.


Now, we apply a robust scaler from Scikit-learn.

robust scaler from Scikit-learn

3. Model Training and Evaluation

After applying normalization techniques to datasets, we can begin model training and evaluation. It begins by splitting the dataset into training and testing sets (we’ve already performed this step before applying normalization techniques).

Next, we train the ML model using various algorithms like linear regression or neural networks using both normalized and unnormalized datasets. Linear regression establishes linear relationships between independent and dependent variables to predict continuous outcomes. Whereas, neural network algorithms feed data into the model using interconnected nodes.

Post model training, we can evaluate the model performance by monitoring metrics like accuracy, mean squared error, F1 score, recall, precision, etc.

Visualizing Normalized Data

Here’s the dataset before applying normalization techniques. The dataset comprises four feature measurements from three species of Iris flowers: setosa, versicolor, and virginica.

Visualizing Normalized Data

Here’s what the dataset looks like after applying min-max normalization and z-score normalization techniques.


Impacts on Gradient Descent Optimization 

Unnormalized data can cause steep oscillations in the cost function, obstructing the Gradient Descent optimization process. This hindrance in optimization can result in slow convergence, as gradient descent may struggle to find the optimal solution efficiently.

However, data normalization in machine learning can positively impact the Gradient Descent optimization algorithm during ML model training. Here’s how:

A. Speeds Up Convergence During Gradient Descent 

Data normalization helps Gradient Descent converge faster during model training by ensuring a well-conditioned optimization process. Normalization eliminates data inconsistencies and biases, standardizing the scale of features. Thus, it prevents oscillations during optimization, improving the cost function and enhancing model performance.

B. Addresses the Vanishing/Exploding Gradient Problem

Normalization scales the input data to reasonable ranges, mitigating the vanishing or exploding gradient issue. With normalization, the gradients do not become too small or too large during backpropagation, ensuring stable optimization.

C. Facilitating Efficient Model Training

Efficient model training is possible by normalizing data as data normalization improves model convergence speed, enhances stability by providing a consistent feature scale, and improves the overall model performance.

Impacts on Model Performance

Different normalization techniques impact model performance metrics. However, there are certain scenarios where normalization may not be beneficial.

1. Limited Feature Variability

In cases where the dataset features have limited variability or are already similar in scale, data normalization may not provide major benefits. Normalizing such datasets can result in potential data distortion and adversely impact model performance.

2. Highly Correlated Features

If a dataset contains highly correlated features that have similar information, data normalization might not benefit model performance significantly. On the flip side, it could potentially distort the relationships between the variables.

3. Domain-Specific Considerations

There are certain domain-specific cases where feature distribution of features is crucial for accurate predictions. In such cases, normalization may not be beneficial. For instance, if specific features hold critical information that should not be altered in scale or magnitude, normalizing the data could lead to the loss of important insights.

Apart from these scenarios, data normalization helps improve model performance. Here’s how.

4. Enhanced Convergence Speed

Data normalization in machine learning removes inconsistencies and standardizes feature scales in datasets. Hence, it ensures that the optimization algorithms converge efficiently, leading to improved model performance.

5. Improved Model Stability

As discussed, normalization reduces the impact of outliers by scaling data. It ensures no specific feature dominates the other, eliminating the risk of biases. Thus, balancing the features leads to more stable model predictions.

6. Facilitating Better Generalization

Normalization ensures that each feature equally contributes to the learning process. This allows the model to generalize well on the input data, eliminating biases and making accurate predictions.

Impacts on Model Training

Following are the data normalization impacts on model training:

1. Consistent Training Across Features

Data normalization ensures consistent training across features by standardizing the data to a common scale. This maintains feature consistency, preventing certain dominant features from overshadowing others during the training process. Hence, all features contribute equally to model learning, avoiding biases caused by varying feature scales and accurate model training.

2. Enhanced Learning for Gradient-Based Algorithms

Data normalization standardizes a scale of the features, improving the convergence of gradient-based algorithms. This standardization makes the algorithms more efficient in learning data patterns and relationships. Thus, it effectively improves model accuracy in predictions.

3. Improved Weight Updates During Training

Data normalization reduces the impact of outliers and extreme values in the dataset, improving weight updates during model training. This improvement in weight updates ensures that the model effectively adjusts its parameters, resulting in better convergence and overall model performance.

Impact on Predictions

Here’s how data normalization in machine learning impacts model predictions.

1. Stable and Reliable Predictions

Data normalization standardizes the feature scale and distribution, eliminating data inconsistencies. This standardization of features allows models to make consistent predictions across different datasets, leading to reduced prediction variability and increased reliability.

2. Mitigation of Prediction Biases

When data is normalized using specific techniques, the influence of varying scales is reduced. Thus, normalization helps mitigate prediction biases by ensuring a common scale for all features. Normalization ensures that no feature dominates the prediction process, resulting in biased outcomes.

3. Robustness Against Outliers

Data normalization reduces the influence of outliers on model prediction. Normalization techniques like z-score or min-max scale the outliers which have the potential to skew data distribution, affecting model performance. Data normalization prevents biases by scaling the extreme values. Thus, it leads to more accurate model predictions.


To sum up, data normalization in machine learning ensures data consistency through feature scaling. The process reduces the risk of biases by mitigating the impact of outliers on model prediction. Further, data normalization accelerates model convergence with feature standardization.

However, it is necessary to understand when to use normalization techniques because over-normalization of data might distort model outcomes. So, avoid data normalization when there’s limited variability in the input data or when the data is domain-specific, and there are feature values that require no alteration.

Explore different data normalization techniques and choose the one that best fits your data. To help you with normalization, Markov offers robust data transformation features.

Want to take control of your model and make informed decisions? Connect with us today!

Kushagra Arora

Member Of Technical Staff at MarkovML

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