Classification and Regression Tree (CART) Algorithm in Data mining

September 25, 2017 Author: virendra
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CART Algorithm overview

A CART tree is a binary decision tree that is constructed by splitting a node into two child nodes repeatedly, beginning with the root node that contains the whole learning sample. Classification and regression trees are machine-learning methods for constructing prediction models from data. The models are obtained by recursively partitioning the data space and fitting a simple prediction model within each partition.

Decision Trees are commonly used in data mining with the objective of creating a model that predicts the value of a target (or dependent variable) based on the values of several input (or independent variables).  In today’s post, we discuss the CART decision tree methodology.



  • Classification Trees: where the target variable is categorical and the tree is used to identify the “class” within which a target variable would likely fall into.

classification and regression

  • Regression Trees: where the target variable is continuous and tree is used to predict its value.

regression

The CART decision tree is a binary recursive partitioning procedure capable of processing continuous and nominal attributes as targets and predictors. Data are handled in their raw form; no binning is required or recommended. Beginning in the root node, the data are split into two children, and each of the children is in turn split into grandchildren. Trees are grown to a maximal size without the use of a stopping rule; essentially the tree-growing process stops when no further splits are possible due to lack of data. The maximal-sized tree is then pruned back to the root (essentially split by split) via the novel method of cost-complexity pruning. The next split to be pruned is the one contributing least to the overall performance of the tree on training data (and more than one split may be removed at a time).

The CART mechanism is intended to produce not one tree, but a sequence of nested pruned trees, each of which is a candidate to be the optimal tree. The “right sized” or “honest” tree is identified by evaluating the predictive performance of every tree in the pruning sequence on independent test data. Unlike C4.5, CART does not use an internal (training-data-based) performance measure for tree selection. Instead, tree performance is always measured on independent test data (or via cross-validation) and tree selection proceeds only after test-data-based evaluation. If testing or cross-validation has not been performed, CART remains agnostic regarding which tree in the sequence is best. This is in sharp contrast to methods such as C4.5 or classical statistics that generate preferred models on the basis of training data measures.




The CART decision tree is a binary recursive partitioning procedure capable of processing continuous and nominal attributes as targets and predictors. Data are handled in their raw form; no binning is required or recommended. Beginning in the root node, the data are split into two children, and each of the children is in turn split into grandchildren. Trees are grown to a maximal size without the use of a stopping rule; essentially the tree-growing process stops when no further splits are possible due to lack of data. The maximal-sized tree is then pruned back to the root (essentially split by split) via the novel method of cost-complexity pruning. The next split to be pruned is the one contributing least to the overall performance of the tree on training data (and more than one split may be removed at a time). The CART mechanism is intended to produce not one tree, but a sequence of nested pruned trees, each of which is a candidate to be the optimal tree. The “right sized” or “honest” tree is identified by evaluating the predictive performance of every tree in the pruning sequence on independent test data. Unlike C4.5, CART does not use an internal (training-data-based) performance measure for tree selection. Instead, tree performance is always measured on independent test data (or via cross-validation) and tree selection proceeds only after test-data-based evaluation. If testing or cross-validation has not been performed, CART remains agnostic regarding which tree in the sequence is best. This is in sharp contrast to methods such as C4.5 or classical statistics that generate preferred models on the basis of training data measures




References

[1] “Venky Rao”, “Introduction to Classification & Regression Trees (CART)”, January 13, 2013, available online at: http://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/introduction-to-classification-regression-trees-cart

[2] Dan Steinberg, “Chapter 10 CART: Classification and Regression Trees”, 2009 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

[3]   Morgan, Jake, “Classification and regression tree analysis.” Report No1, Boston University School of Public Health (2014).

 

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