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Design and analysis of scalable rule induction systems

Afify, Ashraf A. 2004. Design and analysis of scalable rule induction systems. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Machine learning has been studied intensively during the past two decades. One motivation has been the desire to automate the process of knowledge acquisition during the construction of expert systems. The recent emergence of data mining as a major application for machine learning algorithms has led to the need for algorithms that can handle very large data sets. In real data mining applications, data sets with millions of training examples, thousands of attributes and hundreds of classes are common. Designing learning algorithms appropriate for such applications has thus become an important research problem. A great deal of research in machine learning has focused on classification learning. Among the various machine learning approaches developed for classification, rule induction is of particular interest for data mining because it generates models in the form of IF-THEN rules which are more expressive and easier for humans to comprehend. One weakness with rule induction algorithms is that they often scale relatively poorly with large data sets, especially on noisy data. The work reported in this thesis aims to design and develop scalable rule induction algorithms that can process large data sets efficiently while building from them the best possible models. There are two main approaches for rule induction, represented respectively by CN2 and the AQ family of algorithms. These approaches vary in the search strategy employed for examining the space of possible rules, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The first part of this thesis introduces a new rule induction algorithm for learning classification rules, which broadly follows the approach of algorithms represented by CN2. The algorithm presents a new search method which employs several novel search-space pruning rules and rule-evaluation techniques. This results in a highly efficient algorithm with improved induction performance. Real-world data do not only contain nominal attributes but also continuous attributes. The ability to handle continuously valued data is thus crucial to the success of any general purpose learning algorithm. Most current discretisation approaches are developed as pre- processes for learning algorithms. The second part of this thesis proposes a new approach which discretises continuous-valued attributes during the learning process. Incorporating discretisation into the learning process has the advantage of taking into account the bias inherent in the learning system as well as the interactions between the different attributes. This in turn leads to improved performance. Overfitting the training data is a major problem in machine learning, particularly when noise is present. Overfitting increases learning time and reduces both the accuracy and the comprehensibility of the generated rules, making learning from large data sets more difficult. Pruning is a technique widely used for addressing such problems and consequently forms an essential component of practical learning algorithms. The third part of this thesis presents three new pruning techniques for rule induction based on the Minimum Description Length (MDL) principle. The result is an effective learning algorithm that not only produces an accurate and compact rule set, but also significantly accelerates the learning process. RULES-3 Plus is a simple rule induction algorithm developed at the author's laboratory which follows a similar approach to the AQ family of algorithms. Despite having been successfully applied to many learning problems, it has some drawbacks which adversely affect its performance. The fourth part of this thesis reports on an attempt to overcome these drawbacks by utilising the ideas presented in the first three parts of the thesis. A new version of RULES-3 Plus is reported that is a general and efficient algorithm with a wide range of potential applications.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Engineering
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
ISBN: 9781303200328
Funders: Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2014 09:32

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