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In the context of machine learning and AI, pretraining refers to the process of training a model on a large, general dataset before it is fine-tuned on a specific task. This initial training phase allows the model to learn a wide range of features and patterns from the general dataset, which can then be applied to more specialized tasks. Pretraining is particularly common in deep learning, where models like neural networks benefit significantly from understanding general patterns in data before being adapted to specific use cases. This approach often improves the performance of the model on specific tasks, as it provides a solid foundational knowledge base.