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Instance-based learning: nearest neighbour with generalisation

Instance-based learning is a machine learning method that classifies new examples by comparing them to those already seen and in memory. There are two types of instance-based learning; nearest neighbour and case-based reasoning. Of these two methods, nearest neighbour fell into disfavour during the 1980s, but regained popularity recently due to its simplicity and ease of implementation. Nearest neighbour learning is not without problems. It is difficult to define a distance function that works well for both discrete and continuous attributes. Noise and irrelevant attributes also pose problems. Finally, the specificity bias adopted by instance-based learning, while often an advantage, can over-represent small rules at the expense of more general concepts, leading to a marked decrease in classification performance for some domains. Generalised exemplars offer a solution. Examples that share the same class are grouped together, and so represent large rules more fully. This reduces the role of the distance function to determining the class when no rule covers the new example, which reduces the number of classification errors that result from inaccuracies of the distance function, and increases the influence of large rules while still representing small ones. This thesis investigates non-nested generalised exemplars as a way of improving the performance of nearest neighbour. The method is tested using benchmark domains and the results compared with documented results for ungeneralised exemplars, nested generalised exemplars, rule induction methods and a composite rule induction and nearest neighbour learner. The benefits of generalisation are isolated and the performance improvement measured. The results show that non-nested generalisation of exemplars improves the classification performance of nearest neighbour systems and reduces classification time.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Computer Science Working Papers
Martin, B.(1995) Instance-based learning: nearest neighbour with generalisation. (Working paper 95/18). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Department of Computer Science.
University of Waikato, Department of Computer Science