# A Practical Tour of Ensemble (Machine) Learning

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1 A Practical Tour of Ensemble (Machine) Learning Nima Hejazi Evan Muzzall Division of Biostatistics, University of California, Berkeley D-Lab, University of California, Berkeley slides: These are slides from a presentation on practical ensemble learning with the Super Learner and hoensemble packages for the R language, most recently presented at a meeting of The Hacker Within, at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at UC Berkeley, on December 0 source: slides: with notes:

2 Ensemble Learning What? In statistics and machine learning, ensemble methods use multiple learning algorithms to obtain better predictive performance than could be obtained from any of the constituent learning algorithms alone - Wikipedia, November 0 This rather elementary definition of ensemble learning encapsulates quite well the core notions necessary to understand why we might be interested in optimizing such procedures In particular, we will see that a weighted collection of individual learning algorithms can not only outperform other algorithms in practice but also has been shown to be theoretically optimal

3 Ensemble Learning Why? Ensemble methods outperform individual (base) learning algorithms By combining a set of individual learning algorithms using a metalearning algorithm, ensemble methods can approximate complex functional relationships When the true functional relationship is not in the set of base learning algorithms, ensemble methods approximate the true function well nb, ensemble methods can, even asymptotically, perform only as well as the best weighted combination of the candidate learners A variety of techniques exist for ensemble learning, ranging from the classic random forest (of Leo Breiman) to xgboost to Super Learner (van der Laan et al) In this talk, we will focus on the elementary theoretical properties of Super Learner, with an eye towards application Theoretically, a range of different algorithms can be used in the metalearning step; however, in practice, often, logistic regression is used

4 Ensemble Learning How? Common strategies for performing ensemble learning: Bagging reduces variance and increases accuracy; robust against outliers; often used with decision trees (ie, Random Forest) Boosting reduces variance and increases accuracy; not robust against outliers or noise; accomodates any loss function Stacking used in combining strong learners; requires a metalearning algorithm to combine the set of learners While a number of different strategies exist for combining various types of learning algorithms, most modern methods rely on stacking to produce powerful ensemble learners These sorts of ensemble learners are what you want to use to win Kaggle competitions!

5 Introduction to Super Learner paper Stacked Regressions (L Breiman) introduced the notion of model stacking using k-fold cross-validation, the precursor to the modern Super Learner algorithm 00 paper Super Learner (van der Laan et al) worked out theoretical details on the optimality of stacking Before this, the reasons for the superb performance of stacking were unknown The Super Learner algorithm learns the optimal combination of the base learner fits in a manner that is provably asymptotic optimal The Super Learner algorithm allows researchers to use multiple algorithms to outperform a single algorithm in realistic non-parametric and semi-parametric statistical models that are based on actual knowledge The term algorithm is used very loosely to describe any mapping from the data into a predictor This can range from a simple logistic regression to more complex algorithms such as neural nets

6 Interlude: Cross-Validation Fold Fold Fold Fold Fold Fold Fold Fold Fold Fold The validation set rotates V times such that each set is used as the validation set once Cross-validation solves the problem of having many algorithms, and not knowing which one to use and helps us avoid overfitting For any given fold, V sets will comprise the training set and the remaining set is the validation set The observations in the training set are used to construct (or train) the candidate estimators The observations in the validation set are used to assess the performance (ie, risk) of the candidate algorithms

7 Optimality of Super Learner For a random variable O = (W, A, Y), let the oracle selector be a rule that picks the algorithm with the lowest cross-validated risk under the true probability distribution P 0 The oracle selector is unknown because it depends on observed data and the truth Asymptotic results prove that in realistic scenarios (where none of the algorithms represent the true relationship), the discrete super learner performs asymptotically as well as the oracle selector (the best estimator given the algorithms in the collection) To clarify, theory shows that that the discrete super learner performs as well as the oracle selector, up to a second order term The loss function must be bounded, and then we will perform as well as the algorithm that is the risk minimizer of the expected loss function The number of algorithms in the library can grow with sample size

8 The Discrete Super Learner Input data and a collection of algorithms Split data into blocks Fit each of the algorithms on the training set (nonshaded blocks) Predict the estimated probabilities of death (Z) using the validation set (shaded block) for each algorithm, based on the corresponding training set fit Collection of Algorithms Mortality Data regression a regression b regression c regression a regression b regression c Z,a Z,b Z,c Z,a Z,b Z,c Z,a Z,b Z,c CV Risk a CV Risk b CV Risk c regression a regression b regression c The discrete super learner algorithm selects the algorithm with the smallest cross validated risk regression b Calculate estimated risk within each validation set for each algorithm using Z Average the risks across validation sets resulting in one estimated cross-validated risk for each algorithm

9 The Super Learner Algorithm Input data and the collection of algorithms Split data into blocks Fit each of the algorithms on the training set (nonshaded blocks) Predict the probabilities of death (Z) using the validation set (shaded block) for each algorithm, based on the corresponding training set fit Collection of Algorithms Data algorithm a algorithm b algorithm p algorithm a algorithm b algorithm p algorithm a algorithm b algorithm p Z,a Z,b Z,a Z,b Z,a Z,b CV MSE a CV MSE b Family of weighted combinations Z,p Z,p Z,p CV MSE p Calculate estimated MSE within each validation set for each algorithm using Z Average the risks across validation sets resulting in one estimated crossvalidated MSE for each algorithm Propose a family of weighted combinations of the algorithms indexed by a weight vector α Super learner function P n (Y= Z)=expit(α a,n Z a +α b,n Z b ++α p,n Z p ) Fit each of the algorithms on the complete data set Combine these fits with the weights obtained in the previous step to generate the super learner predictor function Use the probabilities (Z) to predict the outcome Y and estimate the vector α, thereby determining the combination that minimizes the crossvalidated risk over the family of weighted combinations Cross-validate base learners: Perform k-fold cross-validation on each learner and collect the cross-validated predicted values from each of the L algorithms The N cross-validated predicted values from each of the L algorithms can be combined to form a new N L matrix Call this matrix, with the original response vector, level-one data Metalearning: Train the metalearning algorithm on the level-one data Train each of the L base algorithms on the full training set The ensemble model consists of the L base learning models and the metalearning model, which can be used to generate predictions on a test set

10 Ensembles with Super Learner

11 R Package: SuperLearner Implements the Super Learner prediction method (stacking) and contains a library of prediction algorithms to be used in the Super Learner Provides a clean interface to numerous algorithms in R and defines a consistent API for extensibility

12 R Package: hoensemble Extension to the ho R package that allows the user to train an ensemble in the HO cluster using any of the supervised machine learning algorithms in HO Uses data-distributed and parallelized Java-based algorithms for the ensemble All training and data processing are performed in the high-performance HO cluster Supports regression and binary classification

13 Summary Ensemble methods combine individual learning algorithms to approximate complex relationships Super Learning (stacking) represents an optimal system for combining individual learning algorithms into an ensemble learner The SuperLearner R package provides a well-maintained implementation of the the Super Learner algorithm The hoensemble R package provides access to a range of ensemble methods, developed by HOai Just a summary of what we discussed today

14 Slides: GitHub: nhejazi/talk-hosl-thw-0 Here s where you can find the resources prepared for this talk

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