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7.1 IntroductIon

In this chapter we describe and illustrate the key methods for performance assessment, and show how they are used to select models.

7.2 Bias, Variance, Model Complexity

Test error, also referred to as generalization error, is the prediction error over an independent test sample \[ Err_\mathcal T=E[L(Y,\hat f(X))|\mathcal T], \] where both \(X\) and \(Y\) are drawn randomly from their joint distribution. Here the training set \(\mathcal T\) is fixed, and test error refers to the error for this specific training set. A related quantity is the expected prediction error (or expected test error) \[Err=E(L(Y,\hat f(X)))=E[Err_\mathcal T].\] Note that this expectation averages over everything that is random, including the randomness in the training set that produced \(\hat f\).

Estimation of \(Err_\mathcal T\) will be our goal, although we will see that Err is more amenable to statistical analysis, and most methods effectively estimate the expected error. It does not seem possible to estimate conditional error effectively, given only the information in the same training set.

Training error is the average loss over the training sample \[ \overline{err}=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^NL(y_i,\hat f(x_i)). \] It is not a good estimate of the test error.

The story is similar for a qualitative or categorical response \(G\) taking one of \(K\) values in a set \(\mathcal G\), labeled for convenience as \(1,2,\cdots, K\). The typical loss functions are \[ L(G,\hat G(X))=I(G\neq\hat G(X))\ \ \mathrm{(0-1\ loss)},\\ L(G,\hat p(X))=-2\sum_{k=1}^KI(G=k)\log \hat p_k(X)=-2\log \hat p_G(X)\ \ \mathrm{(-2\times log-likelihood)}. \] The quantity \(-2\times\mathrm{log-likelihood}\) is sometimes referred to as the deviance.

Again, test error here is \(Err_\mathcal T = E[L(G, \hat G (X))|\mathcal T ]\), the population misclassification error of the classifier trained on \(\mathcal T\) , and Err is the expected misclassification error.

Training error is the sample analogue, for example, \[ \overline{err}=-\frac{2}{N}\sum_{i=1}^N\log\hat p_{g_i}(x_i), \] the sample log-likelihood for the model.

The “-2” in the definition makes the log-likelihood loss for the Gaussian distribution match squared-error loss.

In this chapter, it is important to note that there are in fact two separate goals that we might have in mind:

Model selection: estimating the performance of different models in order to choose the best one.

Model assessment: having chosen a final model, estimating its prediction error (generalization error) on new data.

7.3 The Bias-Variance Decomposition

In this section, a more detailed description of bias-variance decomposition is stated.

For bias-variance decompositions of k-NN and linear model, refer to the text book.

For a linear model family such as ridge regression, we can break down the bias more finely. Let \(\beta_*\) denote the parameters of the best-fitting linear approximation to \(f\):

\[ \beta_*=\arg\min_\beta E(f(X)-X^T\beta)^2. \] Here the expectation is taken with respect to the distribution of the input variables \(X\). Then we can write the average squared bias as

\[\begin{aligned} E_{x_0}[f(x_0)-E\hat f_\alpha(x_0)]^2=&E_{x_0}[f(x_0)-x_0^T\beta_*]^2+E_{x_0}[x_0^T\beta_*-Ex_0^T\hat\beta_\alpha]^2\\ =&\mathrm{Ave[Model\ Bias]^2+Ave[Estimation\ Bias]^2} \end{aligned}\]

The first term on the right-hand side is the average squared model bias, the error between the best-fitting linear approximation and the true function. The second term is the average squared estimation bias, the error between the average estimate \(E(x_0^T\hat\beta)\) and the best-fitting linear approximation.

For linear models fit by ordinary least squares, the estimation bias is zero. For restricted fits, such as ridge regression, it is positive, and we trade it off with the benefits of a reduced variance. The model bias can only be reduced by enlarging the class of linear models to a richer collection of models, by including interactions and transformations of the variables in the model.

7.4 Optimism of the Training Error Rate

Before we continue, we need a few definitions, elaborating on the material of Section 7.2.

Give training set \(\mathcal T=\{(x_1,y_1),\cdots,(x_N,y_N)\}\) the generalization error of a model \(\hat f\) is \[ \mathrm{Err}_\mathcal T=E_{X^0,Y^0}[L(Y^0,\hat f(X^0))|\mathcal T]; \] Note that the training set \(\mathcal T\) is fixed. The point \((X^0,Y^0)\) is a new test data point, drawn from \(F\), the joint distribution of the data. Averaging over training sets \(\mathcal T\) yiels the expected error \[ \mathrm{Err}=E_\mathcal T (\mathrm{Err_\mathcal T}), \] which is more amenable to statistical analysis.

Now typically, the training error \[ \overline{err}=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^NL(y_i,\hat f(x_i)). \] will be less than the true error \(Err_\mathcal T\), because the same data is being used to fit the method and assess its error (justification needed).

Part of the discrepancy is due to where the evaluation points occur. The quantity \(Err_\mathcal T\) can be thought of as extra-sample error, since the test input vectors don’t need to coincide with the training input vectors. The nature of the optimism in \(\overline{err}\) is easiest to understand when we focus instead on the in-sample error

\[ Err_{in}=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^NE_{Y^0}[L(Y_i^0,\hat f(x_i))|\mathcal T]. \] The \(Y^0\) notation indicates that we observe \(N\) new response values at each of the training points \(x_i,i=1,2,\cdots,N\). We define the optimism as the difference between \(Err_{in}\) and the training error \(\overline{err}\): \[ op=Err_{in}-\overline{err}. \] This is typically positive since \(\overline{err}\) is usually biased downward as an estimate of prediction error. Finally, the average optimism is the expectation of the optimism over training sets \[ \omega=E_y(op). \] Here the predictors in the training set are fixed, and the expectation is over the training set outcome values; hence we have used the notation \(E_y\) instead of \(E_\mathcal T\). We can estimate only the expected error \(\omega\) rather than op, in the same way that we can estimate the expected error \(Err\) rather than conditional error \(Err_{\mathcal T}\).

For squared error, 0-1, and other loss functions, one can show quite generally that \[ \omega=\frac{2}{N}\sum_{i=1}^NCov(\hat y_i,y_i). \] In summary, we have the important relation \[ E_y(Err_{in})=E_y(\overline{err})+\frac{2}{N}\sum_{i=1}^NCov(\hat y_i,y_i). \] This expression simplifies if \(\hat y_i\) is obtained by a linear fit with \(d\) inputs or basis functions. For example, \[ \sum_{i=1}^NCov(\hat y_i,y_i)=d\sigma^2_\varepsilon \] for the additive error model \(Y=f(X)+\varepsilon\), and so \[ E_y(Err_{in})=E_y(\overline{err})+2\frac{d}{N}\sigma^2_\varepsilon. \]

7.5 Estimates of In-Sample Prediction Error

The general form of the in-sample error estimates is \[ \widehat{Err}_{in}=\overline{err}+\hat \omega, \] where \(\hat\omega\) is an estimate of the average optimism.

When \(d\) parameters and fit under squared error loss, it leads to a version of the so-called \(C_p\) statistic \[ C_p=\overline{err}+2\frac{d}{N}\hat\sigma_\varepsilon^2. \] Here, the \(\hat\sigma_\varepsilon^2\) is an estimate of the noise variance, obtained from the mean-squared error of a low-biased model.

The Akaike information criterion is a similar but more generally applicable estimate of \(Err_{in}\) when a log-likelihood loss function is used. It relies on a relationship that holds asymptotically as \(N \to \infty\): \[ -2E[\log P_{\hat \theta}(Y)]\approx-\frac{2}{N}E[loglik]+2\frac{d}{N}. \] Here \(P_\theta(Y)\) is a family of densities for \(Y\), \(\hat\theta\) is the maximum likelihood estimate of \(\theta\), and “loglik” is the maximized log-likelihood: \[ loglik=\sum_{i=1}^N\log P_{\hat\theta}(y_i). \] For example, for the logistic regression model, using the binomial log-likelihood, we have \[ AIC=-\frac{2}{N}loglik+2\frac{d}{N} \]

7.6 The Effective Number of Parameters

The concept of “number of parameters” can be generalized, especially to models where regularization is used in the fitting. Suppose we stack the outcomes \(y_1, y_2,\cdots,y_N\) into a vector \(y\), and similarly for the predictions \(\hat y\). Then a linear fitting method is one for which we can write \[ \hat y=Sy, \] where \(S\) is an $NN $ matrix depending on the input vectors \(x_i\) but not on the \(y_i\). Linear fitting methods include linear regression on the original features or on a derived basis set, and smoothing methods that use quadratic shrinkage, such as ridge regression and cubic smoothing splines. Then the effective number of parameters is defined as \[ df(S)=trance(S), \] the sum of the diagonal elements of \(S\) (also known as the effective degrees of freedom). Note that if \(S\) is an orthogonal-projection matrix onto a basis set spanned by \(M\) features, then \(trace(S)=M\). It turns out that \(trace(S)\) is exactly the correct quantity to replace \(d\) as the number of parameters in the \(C_p\) statistic. If \(y\) arises from an additive-error model \(Y=f(X)+\varepsilon\) with \(Var(\varepsilon)=\sigma^2_\varepsilon\), then one can show that \(\sum_{i=1}^NCov(\hat y_i,y_i)=trace(S)\sigma^2_\varepsilon\), which motivates the more general definition \[ df(\hat y)=\frac{\sum_{i=1}^NCov(\hat y_i,y_i)}{\sigma^2_\varepsilon}. \] For models like neural networks, in which we minimize an error function \(R(\omega)\) with weight decay penalty \(\alpha\sum_m w^2_m\), the effective number of parameters has the form \[ df(\alpha)=\sum_{m=1}^M\frac{\theta_m}{\theta_m+\alpha}, \] where the \(\theta_m\) are the eigenvalues of the Hessian matrix \(\partial^2R(w)/\partial w\partial w^T\)

7.7 The Bayesian Approach and BIC

The Bayesian information criterion (BIC), like AIC, is applicable in settings where the fitting is carried out by maximization of a log-likelihood. The generic form of BIC is \[ BIC=-2loglik+(\log N)d. \] The BIC statistic (times 1/2) is also known as the Schwarz criterion.

Under the Gaussian model, assuming the variance \(\sigma^2_\varepsilon\) is known, \(-2loglik\) equals (up to a constant) \(\sum_i(y_i-\hat f(x_i)^2)/\sigma^2_\varepsilon\), which is \(N\cdot\overline{err}/\sigma^2_\varepsilon\) for squared error loss. Hence, we can write \[ BIC=\frac{N}{\sigma^2_\varepsilon}[\overline{err}+(\log N)\cdot \frac{d}{N}\sigma^2_\varepsilon]. \] Therefore BIC is proportional to AIC (\(C_p\)), with the factor 2 replaced by \(\log(N)\). Assuming \(N>e^2\approx 7.4\), BIC tends to penalize complex models more heavily, giving pregerence to simpler models in selection.

Despite its similarity with AIC, BIC is motivated in quite a different way. It arises in the Bayesian approach to model selection, which is also described. Refer to the textbook.

For model selection purposes, there is no clear choice between AIC and BIC. BIC is asymptotically consistent as a selection criterion. What this means is that given a family of models, including the true model, the probability that BIC will select the correct model approaches one as the sample size \(N \to \infty\). This is not the case for AIC, which tends to choose models which are too complex as \(N\to \infty\). On the other hand, for finite samples, BIC often chooses models that are too simple, because of its heavy penalty on complexity.

7.8 Minimum Description Length

The minimum description length (MDL) approach gives a selection criterion formally identical to the BIC approach, but is motivated from an optimal coding viewpoint.

For the detailed theory, refer to the text book.

7.9 Vapnik-Chervonenkis Dimension

Refer to the textbook.(to be continued)

7.10 Cross-Validation

Probably the simplest and most widely used method for estimating prediction error is cross-validation. This method directly estimates the expected extra-sample error \(Err=E[L(Y,\hat f(X))]\), the average generalization error when the method \(\hat f(X)\) is applied to an independent test sample from the joint distribution of \(X\) and \(Y\).

7.10.1 K-Fold Cross-Validation

K-fold cross validation is the method to finesse the problem that we do not have enough data to set aside a validation set and use it to assess the performance of our prediction model.

Let \(\kappa:\{1,\cdots,N\}\to \{1,\cdots,K\}\) be an indexing function that indicates the partition to which observation \(i\) is allocated by the randomization. Denote \(\hat f^{-\kappa}(x)\) the fitted function, computed with the \(k\)th part of the data removed. Then the cross-validation estimate prediction error is \[ CV(\hat f)=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^{N}L(y_i,\hat f^{-\kappa(i)}(x_i)). \] The case \(K = N\) is known as leave-one-out cross-validation.

Given a set of models \(f(x,\alpha)\) indexed by a tuning parameter \(\alpha\), denote by \(\hat f^{-\kappa}(x,\alpha)\) the \(\alpha\)th model fit with the \(k\)th part of the data removed. Then for this set of models, we define \[ CV(\hat f,\alpha)=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^NL(y_i,\hat f^{-\kappa(i)}(x_i,\alpha)). \] The function \(CV(\hat f,\alpha)\) provides an estimate of the test error curve, and we find the tuning parameter \(\hat\alpha\) that minimizes it. Our final chosen model is \(f(x,\hat\alpha)\), which we then fit to all the data.

Generalized cross-validation provides a convenient approximation to leaveone out cross-validation, for linear fitting under squared-error loss. As defined in Section 7.6, A linear fitting method is one for which we can write \[ \hat{y}=Sy. \] Now, for maty linear fitting methods, \[ \frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^N[y_i-\hat f^{-i}(x_i)]^2=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^N[\frac{y_i-\hat f(x_i)}{1-S_{ii}}]^2, \] where \(S_{ii}\) is the \(i\)th diagonal element of \(S\). The GCV approximation is

\[ GCV(\hat f)=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^N[\frac{y_i-\hat f(x_i)}{1-trace(S)/N}]^2. \] The quantity \(trace(S)\) is the effective number of parameters, as defined in Section 7.6.

Some detailed discussion is in Subsection 7.10.2 and 7.10.3 including the wrong and the right way to do cross-validation and does cross-validation really work. Refer to the textbook.

7.11 Bootstrap Methods

The bootstrap is a general tool for assessing statistical accuracy. First we describe the bootstrap in general, and then show how it can be used to estimate extra-sample prediction error. As with cross-validation, the bootstrap seeks to estimate the conditional error \(Err_\mathcal T\) , but typically estimates well only the expected prediction error Err.

Suppose we have a model fit to a set of training data. We denote the training set by \(Z = (z_1, z_2,\cdots,z_N)\), where \(z_i = (x_i, y_i)\). The basic idea is to randomly draw datasets with replacement from the training data, each sample the same size as the original training set. This is done \(B\) times (say \(B = 100\)), producing \(B\) bootstrap datasets. Then we refit the model to each of the bootstrap datasets, and examine the behavior of the fits over the \(B\) replications.

\(S(Z)\) is any quantity computed from the data \(Z\), for example, the prediction at some input point. From the bootstrap sampling we can estimate any aspect of the distribution of \(S(Z)\), for example, its variance,

\[ \widehat{Var}[S(Z)]=\frac{1}{B-1}\sum_{b=1}^B(S(Z^{*b})-\bar{S}^*)^2, \] where \(\bar S^*=\sum_bS(Z^{*b})/B\). Note that \(\widehat{Var}[S(Z)]\) can be thought of as Monte-Carlo estimate of the variance of \(S(Z)\) under sampling from the empirical distribution function \(\hat F\) for the data \((z_1,z_2,\cdots,z_N)\).

How can we apply the bootstrap to estimate prediction error? One approach would be to fit the model in question on a set of bootstrap samples, and then keep track of how well it predicts the original training set. If \(\hat f^{*b}(x_i)\) is the predicted value at \(x_i\), from the model fitted to the \(b\)th bootstrap dataset, our estimate is

\[\widehat{Err}_{boot}=\frac{1}{BN}\sum_{b=1}^B\sum_{i=1}^NL(y_i,\hat f^{*b}(x_i)).\] However, it is easy to see that \(\widehat{Err}_{boot}\) does not provide a good estimate in general. The reason is that the bootstrap datasets are acting as the training samples, while the original training set is acting as the test sample, and these two samples have observations in common.

By mimicking cross-validation, a better bootstrap estimate can be obtained. For each observation, we only keep track of predictions from bootstrap samples not containing that observation. The leave-one-out bootstrap estimate of prediction error is defined by

\[ \widehat{Err}^{(1)}=\frac{1}{N}\sum_{i=1}^N\frac{1}{card(C^{-i})}\sum_{b\in C^{-i}}L(y_i,\hat f^{*b}(x_i)). \] Here \(C^{-i}\) is the set of indices of the bootstrap samples \(b\) that do not contain observation \(i\). In computing \(\widehat{Err}^{(1)}\), we either have to choose \(B\) large enough to ensure that all of the \(card(C^{-i})\) are greater that zero, or we can just leave out the terms corresponding to \(card(C^{-i})\)’s that are zero.

The leave-one out bootstrap solves the overfitting problem suffered by \(\widehat{Err}_{boot}\), but has the training-set-size bias mentioned in the discussion of cross-validation. For more details, refer to the textbook.

7.12 Conditional or Exoected Test Error?

To be continued.


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