T. Mühlbacher ,  L. Linhardt ,  T. Möller ,  H. Piringer (2017)

TreePOD: Sensitivity-Aware Selection of Pareto-Optimal Decision Trees

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IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics


Balancing accuracy gains with other objectives such as interpretability is a key challenge when building decision trees. However, this process is difficult to automate because it involves know-how about the domain as well as the purpose of the model. This paper presents TreePOD, a new approach for sensitivity-aware model selection along trade-offs. TreePOD is based on exploring a large set of candidate trees generated by sampling the parameters of tree construction algorithms. Based on this set, visualizations of quantitative and qualitative tree aspects provide a comprehensive overview of possible tree characteristics. Along trade-offs between two objectives, TreePOD provides efficient selection guidance by focusing on Pareto-optimal tree candidates. TreePOD also conveys the sensitivities of tree characteristics on variations of selected parameters by extending the tree generation process with a full-factorial sampling. We demonstrate how TreePOD supports a variety of tasks involved in decision tree selection and describe its integration in a holistic workflow for building and selecting decision trees. For evaluation, we illustrate a case study for predicting critical power grid states, and we report qualitative feedback from domain experts in the energy sector. This feedback suggests that TreePOD enables users with and without statistical background a confident and efficient identification of suitable decision trees.