Evaluating Classification Results

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When you are working on building classification models you will need some ways of measuring the effectiveness of each model that you will build. This measurement/evaluation is perform during the model build process.

Typically the model build process consists of 2 steps (I’m assuming all data preparation etc has been completed:

  • Build the model: During this step you will feed in a portion of your data set to the data mining algorithm. Typical this data will be a subset of your data set and will typically consist of 60% to 70% of the data. This data is used to by the data mining algorithm to build the model.
  • Test the model: After the model has been built you will need to test the model to see how efficient it is at making the predictions. This is where we use the data that was not used to build the model. For this data we already know the outcome. So after we have applied the model to this data subset we can measure the predicted values against the actual values.

Most of the data mining tools will automate these two steps, specifically the splitting the data into the build and test data sets. But if you are using a language like R, etc then you will need to manually perform these steps.

The most common way of collating the test results is to use the Confusion Matrix. This allows us to layout the correct predictions, the incorrect predictions and to perform a number of other statistical measurements.

True Positives

True Negatives

False Positives

False Negatives

The last two of the above values are also commonly referred to in statistics as Type 1 (false positive) and Type 2 (false negative) errors.

Depending on your project you will concentrate on a combination of the true and false values of either the Positives or the negatives.

For example, in Medical Diagnostics for cancer, you will be looking to keep the False Negatives to a minimum. This is where you have predicted someone does not have cancer, but actually does. The consequence of this is that the person is not brought back for addition testing and we all know what will happen. On the other hand it is OK to have a hight False Positive in this case. In this scenario you bring the person back for additional tests and discover that they are all clear 🙂

Precision = How many of the selected items are relevant? (as a percentage)

Recall = How many of the relevant items are selected? (as a percentage)

Accuracy = How many did we correctly predict? (as a percentage)

The following table illustrates these measurements and tests.

Confusion Matrix

There are lots of other statistical tests that can be performed on your results. Everyone will have their own preferences. What I have highlighted here are the main statistical test for you to look at.

You cannot use one or a few of the statistical tests to make a decision on what data mining model works best for your data. It is a combination of these statistical test, your understanding of the data and you understanding of the business project that need to be considered.

In my next 2 blog posts I will show you how you can perform these tests on the results generated by the Oracle Data Miner tool and then on the Oracle Data Miner models produced using PL/SQL.

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