Lazy Decision Trees

Jerome H. Friedman, Ron Kohavi, Yeogirl Yun

Lazy learning algorithms, exemplified by nearest-neighbor algorithms, do not induce a concise hypothesis from a given training set; the inductive process is delayed until a test instance is given. Algorithms for constructing decision trees, such as C4.5, ID3, and CART create a single "best" decision tree during the training phase, and this tree is then used to classify test instances. The tests at the nodes of the constructed tree are good on average, but there may be better tests for classifying a specific instance. We propose a lazy decision tree algorithm-LazyDT-that conceptually constructs the "best" decision tree for each test instance. In practice, only a path needs to be constructed, and a caching scheme makes the algorithm fast. The algorithm is robust with respect to missing values without resorting to the complicated methods usually seen in induction of decision trees. Experiments on real and artificial problems are presented.

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