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Multi-Target Regression with Rule Ensembles

Timo Aho, Bernard Ženko, Sašo Džeroski, Tapio Elomaa; 13(78):2367−2407, 2012.


Methods for learning decision rules are being successfully applied to many problem domains, in particular when understanding and interpretation of the learned model is necessary. In many real life problems, we would like to predict multiple related (nominal or numeric) target attributes simultaneously. While several methods for learning rules that predict multiple targets at once exist, they are all based on the covering algorithm, which does not work well for regression problems. A better solution for regression is the rule ensemble approach that transcribes an ensemble of decision trees into a large collection of rules. An optimization procedure is then used to select the best (and much smaller) subset of these rules and to determine their respective weights.
We introduce the FIRE algorithm for solving multi-target regression problems, which employs the rule ensembles approach. We improve the accuracy of the algorithm by adding simple linear functions to the ensemble. We also extensively evaluate the algorithm with and without linear functions. The results show that the accuracy of multi-target regression rule ensembles is high. They are more accurate than, for instance, multi-target regression trees, but not quite as accurate as multi-target random forests. The rule ensembles are significantly more concise than random forests, and it is also possible to create compact rule sets that are smaller than a single regression tree but still comparable in accuracy.

© JMLR 2012. (edit, beta)