Homework #6 SOlution

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There are 3 problems on 4 pages in this homework. This homework consists of two parts.

Written part: Problems 1 and 2 (no group work)

Submit all written answers by committing a single pdf file named YOUR_WUSTL_KEY_ hw6.pdf to the hw6 folder in your SVN repository.

Implementation part: Problem 3 (you may work in groups of 2)

You may work in pairs on the implementation part. Each group should turn in the source code only once. Please do not collaborate with anyone other than your part-ner. Indicate group work by adding both wustlkeys separated by a newline to the partners.txt file and commit this file to both repositories (partnerships must me mutually accepted!).

Stubs for your implementations are in your SVN repository. Your implementations will be autograded. Follow the submission instructions exactly. Do not add additional functions and do not change the names or signatures of the functions as this will lead the autograder to fail in which case you cannot get credit!

Comment your code properly.

Autograder: The autograder for this class is used for grading only. It is not meant to be used for debugging. We will run it after the submission deadline. We offer one autograder deadline prior to the submission deadline, where we grade your work and give you the feedback of the autograder. This deadline is optional, but highly recommended!

THU 17th of Nov 10am: deadline for optional autograder feedback

TUE 22nd of Nov 10am: final submission deadline

You may use up to two late days from your late day contingent for this submission. (No extensions beyond this!)

Keep in mind that Nov 23rd – 27th is Thanksgiving break (no office hours and limited Piazza question answering.)

If you have any questions with respect to the autograder, ask on Piazza using the autograder tag.


  1. (15 points) Entropy for Decision Tree Learning

When deciding which split (feature and category or threshold) to use for the nodes when learning a decision tree, we aim to maximize label purity in the child nodes. One way to achieve this goal is to maximize the divergence from the uniform label distribution.

    1. Show that maximizing the divergence of the label distribution in the child nodes to the uniform distribution is equivalent to minimizing entropy. HINT: use KL-divergence (Kullback-Leibler Divergence) to quantify the distance between two discrete probabil-ity distributions.

    1. In the lecture we maximized information gain to decide on the splits. Show that max-imizing information gain is equivalent to minimizing entropy. HINT: you can assume binary splits.

    1. What is the time complexity to find the best split using entropy assuming binary fea-tures? What is the time complexity assuming continuous features?

  1. (35 points) Efficient Decision Tree Learning

You are building a regression tree (CART), and your recursive function is called with data

  • = f(~x1; y1); : : : ; (~xn; yn)g (where we have continuous attributes xi 2 Rd and continuous labels

yi 2 R). For a leaf let the prediction be the average predictor p

y =


(~xi;yi)2S yi, where




are all datapoints in that leaf. We use label variance as impurity



  1. Show that p minimizes the average squared loss L(D) = jD1j P(~xj ;yj )2D (yj p)2: Ex-plain why this must be the case.

  1. If the termination conditions are not met (i.e. you do not create a leaf), you need to split. For this, you need to find the best split for any feature f. Assume we have sorted our data set according to some feature f, such that f1 f2 fn, where fi is the value of feature f in example ~xi. Let all relevant splits be c1 c2 cn 1, for example

c = fi+fi+1 .


      1. Define the predictors yLi; yRi of the left and right sub-trees, after cutting at ci (left ci) in terms of y1; : : : ; yn.

      1. Write down the expressions for the loss LiL and LiR on the left and right sub-trees, after cutting at ci. What is the time complexity of computing both terms for any cut point ci?

      1. Express yLi+1; yRi+1 in terms of yLi; yRi and yi+1.



iv. Let si = P

j=1 yj2 and ri =

Pj=i+1 yj2,


LLi+1; LRi+1 in terms of yi+1; yLi; yRi; si; ri.

  1. Write a full update rule for iteration i + 1, assuming you have yLi; yRi; si; ri; Li; Ri.

  1. What is the time complexity to find the best split using this method assuming your data is already sorted? What is the time complexity for sorting D for all features? Compare the time complexity to build an entire tree for the approach developed in this problem to the time complexity of building an entire tree using entropy as in problem 1(c).


  1. (50 points) Implementation: Bagged and Boosted Decision Trees

In this assignment you will implement a decision tree algorithm and then use it for bagging and boosting. Update your SVN repository. All of the following stub files are in the hw6 folder:



Returns a decision tree using the minimum entropy splitting rule

(implemented for you in entropysplit.m)


Evaluates a decision tree on a test data.


Prunes a tree using a validation set.


Builds a forest of id3trees.


Learns and evaluates a forest.


Applies adaboost to your id3tree.


Learns and evaluates a boosted classifier.

Already implemented:


This function implements minimum entropy splitting

using information gain/entropy.


This function computes train and test accuracy and runtime for

all your algorithms (uses analyze.m).


This function visualizes trees (uses vistree.m and scat.m).


(download from Piazza resources)


Subset of the Iris flower dataset



Another dataset for binary classification.

As MATLAB does not support pointers and is really only good with matrices, we will repre-sent a tree through a matrix T . A tree T with q nodes must be of dimensions 6 q, where each column represents a different node in the tree. The very first column is the root node and each column represents the following information:

  1. prediction at this node

  1. index of feature to cut

  1. cutoff value c (<= c : left, and > c : right)

  1. index of left subtree (0 = leaf)

  1. index of right subtree (0 = leaf)

  1. parent (0 = root)

entropysplit.m searches through all features and returns the best split (feature, cut-threshold combination) based on information gain (in this case entropy). You don’t need to implement this, it is already done for you in the file entropysplit.m. Please take a minute and familiarize yourself with the implementation. It will make subsequent tasks easier.

  1. Implement the function id3tree.m which returns a decision tree based on the min-imum entropy splitting rule. The function takes training data, test data, a maximum depth, and the weigh of each training example (used in entropy splitting). You can


visualize your tree with the command visualhw7. Maximum depth and weight are optional arguments. If they are not provided you should make maximum depth infin-ity and equally weight each example. (Hint: To speed up your code make sure you initialize the matrix T with the command T = zeros(6, q) with some estimate of q.) You should use the function entropysplit.m

  1. Implement the function evaltree.m, which evaluates a decision tree on a given test data set. You can test the accuracy of your implementation with hw7tictoc.

  1. Decision trees (without depth limit) are high variance classifiers. Consequently, over-fitting is a serious problem. One cure around it is to prune your tree to stop making ”silly” splits that overfit to the training set. You prune a tree bottom up, by removing leaves that do not reduce the validation error (reduced error pruning). Implement the function prunetree.m, which returns a decision tree pruned for a validation data set. The accuracy on the validation set should be the same or higher after pruning.

  1. A more effective way to prevent overfitting is to use bagging. Implement the function forest.m, which builds a forest (not a random forest) of ID3 decision trees. Each tree should be built using training data drawn by randomly sampling n examples from the training data with replacement, you can use MATLAB’s randsample function to do this. (Do not randomly sample features.)

  1. Implement the function evalforest.m, which evaluates a forest on a test data set. Remember that random forests make predictions by majority vote.

  1. Another option to improve your decision trees is to build trees of small depth (e.g. only depth=3 or depth=4). These do not have high variance, but instead suffer from high bias. You can reduce the bias of a classifier with boosting. Implement the function boosttree.m, which applies ADABOOST on your id3tree functions.

  1. Implement the function evalboost.m, which evaluates an ensemble of boosted deci-sion trees.

Once, you have implemented all functions you can run cart_tictoc.m, which computes training and test error as well as runtime for all four algorithms. Try different datasets (you may also use the ones from the previous homeworks1.) and play around with the input parameters of your forest and Adaboost methods.

Submit your implementation by committing all your functions and the partners.txt file to the HW6 folder in your SVN repository.

  • If you want to use digits or faces, you will need to adapt your boosting algorithm for multi-class classification. (Not required for the homework.)