Various machine learning techniques have been implemented to assist in neutron-gamma discrimination with great success compared to traditional methods. Despite this, the fundamental structure of a pulse shape as it relates to machine learning has not yet been explored in detail, and the optimal number of pulse vector features needed for training is still unknown. In this study, support vector machines (SVMs) using linear, radial basis, and exponential kernel functions are fitted on data of two different forms: waveforms that partially cover the original pulses and principal components extracted from those pulses. The described methods correctly classified 98.02% for neutrons and 97.84% for gamma rays. The efficiency of the SVM was improved by extracting principal components from the waveforms. That is, fewer features were needed to discriminate between neutrons and gamma rays without negatively impacting the classification accuracy. This study also shows that utilizing a nonlinear kernel significantly reduces the number of features required to reach high classification accuracy. SVMs that did this could make accurate classifications 97% of the time with data that had fewer than 50 features.