When I dabbled in some machine learning as part of my job, I quickly found that I was out of my depth.
I could handle the implementation side and could make some reasoned decisions. But, when it really came down to it... I didn't know if what I was doing was right or wrong.
I didn't know how to properly justify whether my code changes were improving or damaging the output model.
When I sat down with someone with some stats knowledge, they were able to shed a lot of light on the direction I needed to go and provided a ton of tips while they were there.
It was pretty clear there, that stats knowledge would have been extremely useful to me.
Outside of that experience, I haven't felt like I have been heavily affected by my lack of stats knowledge.
So the answer from me is. It depends.
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