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Data Categorization Using Decision Trellises
September/October 1999 (vol. 11 no. 5)
pp. 697-712

Abstract—We introduce a probabilistic graphical model for supervised learning on databases with categorical attributes. The proposed belief network contains hidden variables that play a role similar to nodes in decision trees and each of their states either corresponds to a class label or to a single attribute test. As a major difference with respect to decision trees, the selection of the attribute to be tested is probabilistic. Thus, the model can be used to assess the probability that a tuple belongs to some class, given the predictive attributes. Unfolding the network along the hidden states dimension yields a trellis structure having a signal flow similar to second order connectionist networks. The network encodes context specific probabilistic independencies to reduce parametric complexity. We present a custom tailored inference algorithm and derive a learning procedure based on the expectation-maximization algorithm. We propose decision trellises as an alternative to decision trees in the context of tuple categorization in databases, which is an important step for building data mining systems. Preliminary experiments on standard machine learning databases are reported, comparing the classification accuracy of decision trellises and decision trees induced by C4.5. In particular, we show that the proposed model can offer significant advantages for sparse databases in which many predictive attributes are missing.

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Index Terms:
Belief networks, classification, connectionist models, context specific independence, data mining, decision trees, machine learning.
Paolo Frasconi, Marco Gori, Giovanni Soda, "Data Categorization Using Decision Trellises," IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 697-712, Sept.-Oct. 1999, doi:10.1109/69.806931
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