An Efficient Algorithm for Finding Optimal Gain-Ratio Multiple-Split Tests on Hierarchical Attributes in Decision Tree Learning

Hussein Almuallim, Yasuhiro Akiba, Shigeo Kaneda

Given a set of training examples S and a tree-structured attribute x, the goal in this work is to find a multiple-split test defined on x that maximizes Quinlan’s gain-ratio measure. The number of possible such multiple-split tests grows exponentially in the size of the hierarchy associated with the attribute. It is, therefore, impractical to enumerate and evaluate all these tests in order to choose the best one. We introduce an efficient algorithm for solving this problem that guarantees maximizing the gain-ratio over all possible tests. For a training set of m examples and an attribute hierarchy of height d, our algorithm runs in time proportional to dm, which makes it efficient enough for practical use.

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