NeurIPS 2020
Conference paper

A Scalable MIP-based Method for Learning Optimal Multivariate Decision Trees

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Several recent publications report advances in training optimal decision trees (ODTs) using mixed-integer programs (MIPs), due to algorithmic advances in integer programming and a growing interest in addressing the inherent suboptimality of heuristic approaches such as CART. In this paper, we propose a novel MIP formulation, based on 1-norm support vector machine model, to train a binary oblique ODT for classification problems. We further present techniques, such as cutting planes, to tighten its linear relaxation, to improve run times to reach optimality. Using 36 datasets from the University of California Irvine Machine Learning Repository, we demonstrate that our training approach outperforms its counterparts from literature in terms of out-of-sample performance (around 10% improvement in mean out-of-sample testing accuracy). Towards our goal of developing a scalable framework to train multivariate ODT on large datasets, we propose a new linear programming based data selection method to choose a subset of the data, and use it to train a decision tree through our proposed MIP model. We conclude this paper with extensive numerical testing results, that showcase the generalization performance of our new MIP formulation, and the improvement in mean out-of-sample accuracy on large datasets.