imbalanced data

Handling imbalanced data: 7 innovative techniques for successful analysis
Ayesha Saleem
| March 21, 2023

Imbalanced data is a common problem in machine learning, where one class has a significantly higher number of observations than the other. This can lead to biased models and poor performance on the minority class. In this blog, we will discuss techniques for handling imbalanced data and improving model performance.   

Understanding imbalanced data 

Imbalanced data refers to datasets where the distribution of class labels is not equal, with one class having a significantly higher number of observations than the other. This can be a problem for machine learning algorithms, as they can be biased towards the majority class and perform poorly on the minority class. 

Techniques for handling imbalanced data

Dealing with imbalanced data is a common problem in data science, where the target class has an uneven distribution of observations. In classification problems, this can lead to models that are biased toward the majority class, resulting in poor performance of the minority class. To handle imbalanced data, various techniques can be employed. 

How to handle imbalanced data
How to handle imbalanced data – Data Science Dojo

 1. Resampling techniques

Resampling techniques involve modifying the original dataset to balance the class distribution. This can be done by either oversampling the minority class or undersampling the majority class. 

Oversampling techniques include random oversampling, synthetic minority over-sampling technique (SMOTE), and adaptive synthetic (ADASYN). Undersampling techniques include random undersampling, nearmiss, and tomek links. 

An example of a resampling technique is bootstrap resampling, where you generate new data samples by randomly selecting observations from the original dataset with replacements. These new samples are then used to estimate the variability of a statistic or to construct a confidence interval.  

For instance, if you have a dataset of 100 observations, you can draw 100 new samples of size 100 with replacement from the original dataset. Then, you can compute the mean of each new sample, resulting in 100 new mean values. By examining the distribution of these means, you can estimate the standard error of the mean or the confidence interval of the population mean. 

2. Data augmentation

Data augmentation involves creating additional data points by modifying existing data. This can be done by applying various transformations such as rotations, translations, and flips to the existing data.

Read about top statistical techniques in this blog  

3. Synthetic minority over-sampling technique (SMOTE)

SMOTE is a type of oversampling technique that involves creating synthetic examples of the minority class by interpolating between existing minority class examples.

4. Ensemble techniques

Ensemble techniques involve combining multiple models to improve performance. This can be done by using techniques such as bagging, boosting, and stacking.

5. One-class classification

One-class classification involves training a model on only one class and then using it to identify data points that do not belong to that class. This can be useful for identifying anomalies and outliers in the data.

6. Cost-sensitive learning

Cost-sensitive learning involves adjusting the cost of misclassifying data points to account for the class imbalance. This can be done by assigning a higher cost to misclassifying the minority class, which encourages the model to prioritize correctly classifying the minority class.

7. Evaluation metrics for imbalanced data

Evaluation metrics such as precision, recall, and F1 score can be used to evaluate the performance of models on imbalanced data. Additionally, metrics such as the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC-ROC) and the area under the precision-recall curve (AUC-PR) can also be used. 

Choosing the best technique for handling imbalanced data 

After discussing techniques for handling imbalanced data, we learned several approaches that can be used to address the issue. The most common techniques include undersampling, oversampling, and feature selection. 

Undersampling involves reducing the size of the majority class to match that of the minority class, while oversampling involves creating new instances of the minority class to balance the data. Feature selection is the process of selecting only the most relevant features to reduce the noise in the data.  

In conclusion, it is recommended to use both undersampling and oversampling techniques to balance the data, with oversampling being the most effective. However, the choice of technique will ultimately depend on the specific characteristics of the dataset and the problem at hand. 

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