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  • James Mercer FRS was a mathematician, born in Bootle, close to Liverpool, England. He was educated at University of Manchester, and then University of Cambridge. He became a Fellow, saw active service at the Battle of Jutland in World War I, and after decades of suffering ill health died in London, England. He proved Mercer's theorem, which states that positive definite kernels can be expressed as a dot product in a high-dimensional space. This theorem is the basis of the kernel trick, which allows linear algorithms to be easily converted into non-linear algorithms.

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