Classification and Regression by randomForest

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Authors Andy Liaw, Matthew C. Wiener
Journal/Conference Name R News
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Recently there has been a lot of interest in “ensemble learning” — methods that generate many classifiers and aggregate their results. Two well-known methods are boosting (see, e.g., Shapire et al., 1998) and bagging Breiman (1996) of classification trees. In boosting, successive trees give extra weight to points incorrectly predicted by earlier predictors. In the end, a weighted vote is taken for prediction. In bagging, successive trees do not depend on earlier trees — each is independently constructed using a bootstrap sample of the data set. In the end, a simple majority vote is taken for prediction. Breiman (2001) proposed random forests, which add an additional layer of randomness to bagging. In addition to constructing each tree using a different bootstrap sample of the data, random forests change how the classification or regression trees are constructed. In standard trees, each node is split using the best split among all variables. In a random forest, each node is split using the best among a subset of predictors randomly chosen at that node. This somewhat counterintuitive strategy turns out to perform very well compared to many other classifiers, including discriminant analysis, support vector machines and neural networks, and is robust against overfitting (Breiman, 2001). In addition, it is very user-friendly in the sense that it has only two parameters (the number of variables in the random subset at each node and the number of trees in the forest), and is usually not very sensitive to their values. The randomForest package provides an R interface to the Fortran programs by Breiman and Cutler (available at users/breiman/). This article provides a brief introduction to the usage and features of the R functions.
Date of publication 2007
Code Programming Language R

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