Kursa, Miron B., Komsta, Łukasz, Rudnicki, Witold R.

In the current study we examine an application of the machine learning methods to model the retention constants in the thin layer chromatography (TLC). This problem can be described with hundreds or even thousands of descriptors relevant to various molecular properties, most of them redundant and not relevant for the retention constant prediction. Hence we employed feature selection to significantly reduce the number of attributes. Additionally we have tested application of the bagging procedure to the feature selection. The random forest regression models were built using selected variables. The resulting models have better correlation with the experimental data than the reference models obtained with linear regression. The cross-validation confirms robustness of the models.

Wainer, Jacques, Cawley, Gavin

Abstract--When selecting a classification algorithm to be applied to a particular problem, one has to simultaneously select the best algorithm for that dataset and the best set of hyperparameters for the chosen model. The usual approach is to apply a nested cross-validation procedure; hyperparameter selection is performed in the inner crossvalidation, while the outer cross-validation computes an unbiased estimate of the expected accuracy of the algorithm with cross-validation based hyperparameter tuning. The alternative approach, which we shall call "flat cross-validation", uses a single cross-validation step both to select the optimal hyperparameter values and to provide an estimate of the expected accuracy of the algorithm, that while biased may nevertheless still be used to select the best learning algorithm. We tested both procedures using 12 different algorithms on 115 real life binary datasets and conclude that using the less computationally expensive flat crossvalidation procedure will generally result in the selection of an algorithm that is, for all practical purposes, of similar quality to that selected via nested cross-validation, provided the learning algorithms have relatively few hyperparameters to be optimised. A practitioner who builds a classification model has to select the best algorithm for that particular problem. There are hundreds of classification algorithms described in the literature, such as k-nearest neighbour [1], SVM [2], neural networks [3], naïve Bayes [4], gradient boosting machines [5], and so on.

Random forests remain among the most popular off-the-shelf supervised machine learning tools with a well-established track record of predictive accuracy in both regression and classification settings. Despite their empirical success as well as a bevy of recent work investigating their statistical properties, a full and satisfying explanation for their success has yet to be put forth. Here we aim to take a step forward in this direction by demonstrating that the additional randomness injected into individual trees serves as a form of implicit regularization, making random forests an ideal model in low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) settings. Specifically, from a model-complexity perspective, we show that the mtry parameter in random forests serves much the same purpose as the shrinkage penalty in explicitly regularized regression procedures like lasso and ridge regression. To highlight this point, we design a randomized linear-model-based forward selection procedure intended as an analogue to tree-based random forests and demonstrate its surprisingly strong empirical performance. Numerous demonstrations on both real and synthetic data are provided.

Coleman, Tim, Peng, Wei, Mentch, Lucas

Throughout the last decade, random forests have established themselves as among the most accurate and popular supervised learning methods. While their black-box nature has made their mathematical analysis difficult, recent work has established important statistical properties like consistency and asymptotic normality by considering subsampling in lieu of bootstrapping. Though such results open the door to traditional inference procedures, all formal methods suggested thus far place severe restrictions on the testing framework and their computational overhead precludes their practical scientific use. Here we propose a permutation-style testing approach to formally assess feature significance. We establish asymptotic validity of the test via exchangeability arguments and show that the test maintains high power with orders of magnitude fewer computations. As importantly, the procedure scales easily to big data settings where large training and testing sets may be employed without the need to construct additional models. Simulations and applications to ecological data where random forests have recently shown promise are provided.

Plumb, Gregory, Molitor, Denali, Talwalkar, Ameet S.

Model interpretability is an increasingly important component of practical machine learning. Some of the most common forms of interpretability systems are example-based, local, and global explanations. One of the main challenges in interpretability is designing explanation systems that can capture aspects of each of these explanation types, in order to develop a more thorough understanding of the model. We address this challenge in a novel model called MAPLE that uses local linear modeling techniques along with a dual interpretation of random forests (both as a supervised neighborhood approach and as a feature selection method). MAPLE has two fundamental advantages over existing interpretability systems.