- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Machine learning in high-stakes domains, such as healthcare, faces two critical challenges: (1) generalizing to diverse data distributions given limited training data while (2) maintaining interpretability. To address these challenges, we propose an instance-weighted tree-sum method that effectively pools data across diverse groups to output a concise, rule-based model. Given distinct groups of instances in a dataset (e.g., medical patients grouped by age or treatment site), our method first estimates group membership probabilities for each instance. Then, it uses these estimates as instance weights in FIGS (Tan et al., 2022), to grow a set of decision trees whose values sum to the final prediction. We call this new method Group Probability-Weighted Tree Sums (G-FIGS). G-FIGS achieves state-of-theart prediction performance on important clinical datasets; e.g., holding the level of sensitivity fixed at 92%, G-FIGS increases specificity for identifying cervical spine injury (CSI) by up to 10% over CART and up to 3% over FIGS alone, with larger gains at higher sensitivity levels. By keeping the total number of rules below 16 in FIGS, the final models remain interpretable, and we find that their rules match medical domain expertise. All code, data, and models are released on Github.
A cautionary tale on fitting decision trees to data from additive models: generalization lower boundsDecision trees are important both as interpretable models amenable to high-stakes decision making, and as building blocks of ensemble methods such as random forests and gradient boosting. Their statistical properties, however, are not well understood. The most cited prior works have focused on deriving pointwise consistency guarantees for CART in a classical nonparametric regression setting. We take a different approach, and advocate studying the generalization performance of decision trees with respect to different generative regression models. This allows us to elicit their inductive bias, that is, the assumptions the algorithms make (or do not make) to generalize to new data, thereby guiding practitioners on when and how to apply these methods. In this paper, we focus on sparse additive generative models, which have both low statistical complexity and some nonparametric flexibility. We prove a sharp squared error generalization lower bound for a large class of decision tree algorithms fitted to sparse additive models with C component functions. This bound is surprisingly much worse than the minimax rate for estimating such sparse additive models. The inefficiency is due not to greediness, but to the loss in power for detecting global structure when we average responses solely over each leaf, an observationmore »
Tree-based models such as decision trees and random forests (RF) are a cornerstone of modern machine-learning practice. To mitigate overfitting, trees are typically regularized by a variety of techniques that modify their structure (e.g. pruning). We introduce Hierarchical Shrinkage (HS), a post-hoc algorithm that does not modify the tree structure, and instead regularizes the tree by shrinking the prediction over each node towards the sample means of its ancestors. The amount of shrinkage is controlled by a single regularization parameter and the number of data points in each ancestor. Since HS is a post-hoc method, it is extremely fast, compatible with any tree growing algorithm, and can be used synergistically with other regularization techniques. Extensive experiments over a wide variety of real world datasets show that HS substantially increases the predictive performance of decision trees, even when used in conjunction with other regularization techniques. Moreover, we find that applying HS to each tree in an RF often improves accuracy, as well as its interpretability by simplifying and stabilizing its decision boundaries and SHAP values. We further explain the success of HS in improving prediction performance by showing its equivalence to ridge regression on a (supervised) basis constructed of decision stumpsmore »
Machine learning (ML) methods, such as artificial neural networks (ANN), k-nearest neighbors (kNN), random forests (RF), support vector machines (SVM), and boosted decision trees (DTs), may offer stronger predictive performance than more traditional, parametric methods, such as linear regression, multiple linear regression, and logistic regression (LR), for specific mapping and modeling tasks. However, this increased performance is often accompanied by increased model complexity and decreased interpretability, resulting in critiques of their “black box” nature, which highlights the need for algorithms that can offer both strong predictive performance and interpretability. This is especially true when the global model and predictions for specific data points need to be explainable in order for the model to be of use. Explainable boosting machines (EBM), an augmentation and refinement of generalize additive models (GAMs), has been proposed as an empirical modeling method that offers both interpretable results and strong predictive performance. The trained model can be graphically summarized as a set of functions relating each predictor variable to the dependent variable along with heat maps representing interactions between selected pairs of predictor variables. In this study, we assess EBMs for predicting the likelihood or probability of slope failure occurrence based on digital terrain characteristics inmore »
Varying coefficient models are a flexible extension of generic parametric models whose coefficients are functions of a set of effect-modifying covariates instead of fitted constants. They are capable of achieving higher model complexity while preserving the structure of the underlying parametric models, hence generating interpretable predictions. In this paper we study the use of gradient boosted decision trees as those coefficient-deciding functions in varying coefficient models with linearly structured outputs. In contrast to the traditional choices of splines or kernel smoothers, boosted trees are more flexible since they require no structural assumptions in the effect modifier space. We introduce our proposed method from the perspective of a localized version of gradient descent, prove its theoretical consistency under mild assumptions commonly adapted by decision tree research, and empirically demonstrate that the proposed tree boosted varying coefficient models achieve high performance qualified by their training speed, prediction accuracy and intelligibility as compared to several benchmark algorithms.