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Online Random Forest

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

Abstract
As a testament to their success, the theory of random forests has long been outpaced by their application in practice. In this paper, we take a step towards narrowing this gap by providing a consistency result for online random forests.

present what is to the best of our knowledge the first consistency result for online random forests. We show that the theory provides guidance for designing online random forest algorithms. A few simple experiments with our algorithm confirm the requirements for consistency predicted by the theory. The experiments also highlight some theoretical and practical problems that need to be addressed.

1. Introduction
Random forests are a class of ensemble method whose base learners are a collection of randomized tree predictors, which are combined through averaging. The original random forests framework described in Breiman (2001) has been extremely influential (Svetnik et al., 2003; Prasad et al., 2006; Cutler et al., 2007; Shotton et al., 2011; Criminisi et al., 2011). Despite their extensive use in practical settings, very little is known about the mathematical properties of these algorithms. A recent paper by one of the leading theoretical experts states that Despite growing interest and practical use, there has been little exploration of the statistical properties of random forests, and little is known about the mathematical forces driving the algorithm (Biau, 2012). Theoretical work in this area typically focuses on stylized versions of the random forests algorithms used in practice. For example, Biau et al. (2008) prove the consistency of a variety of ensemble methods built by averaging base classifiers. Two of the models they study are direct simplifications of the forest growing algorithms used in practice; the others are stylized neighbourhood averaging rules, which can be viewed as simplifications of random forests through the lens of Lin & Jeon (2002). In this paper we make further steps towards narrowing the gap between theory and practice. In particular, we
Preliminary work. Under review by the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML). Do not distribute.

2. Related Work
Different variants of random forests are distinguished by the methods they use for growing the trees. The model described in Breiman (2001) builds each tree on a bootstrapped sample of the training set using the CART methodology (Breiman et al., 1984). The optimization in each leaf that searches for the optimal split point is restricted to a random selection of features, or linear combinations of features. The framework of Criminisi et al. (2011) operates slightly differently. Instead of choosing only features at random, this framework chooses entire decisions (i.e. both a feature or combination of features and a threshold together) at random and optimizes only over this set. They also offer a variety of different objectives which can be optimized to split each leaf, depending on the task at hand (e.g. classification vs manifold learning). Unlike the work of Breiman (2001), this framework chooses not to include bagging, preferring instead to train each tree on the entire data set and introduce randomness only in the splitting process. The authors argue that without bagging their model obtains max-margin properties. In addition to the frameworks mentioned above, many practitioners introduce their own variations on the basic random forests algorithm, tailored to their specific problem domain. A variant from Bosch et al. (2007) is especially similar to the technique we use in this paper: When growing a tree the authors randomly select one third of the training data to determine the structure of the tree and use the remaining two thirds to fit the leaf estimators. However, the authors consider this only as a technique for introducing randomness into the trees, whereas in our model the partitioning

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of data plays a central role in consistency. In addition to these offline methods, several researchers have focused on building online versions of random forests. Online models are attractive because they do not require that the entire training set be accessible at once. These models are appropriate for streaming settings where training data is generated over time and should be incorporated into the model as quickly as possible. Several variants of online decision tree models are present in the MOA system of Bifet et al. (2010). The primary difficulty with building online decision trees is their recursive nature. Data encountered once a split has been made cannot be used to correct earlier decisions. A notable approach to this problem is the Hoeffding tree (Domingos & Hulten, 2000) algorithm, which works by maintaining several candidate splits in each leaf. The quality of each split is estimated online as data arrive in the leaf, but since the entire training set is not available these quality measures are only estimates. The Hoeffding bound is employed in each leaf to control the amount of data which must be collected to ensure that the split chosen on the basis of these estimates is the true best split with high probability. Domingos & Hulten (2000) prove that under reasonable assumptions the online Hoeffding tree converges to the offline tree with high probability. The Hoeffding tree algorithm is implemented in the system of Bifet et al. (2010). Alternative methods for controlling tree growth in an online setting have also been explored. Saffari et al. (2009) use the online bagging technique of Oza & Russel (2001) and control leaf splitting using two parameters, in their online random forest. One parameter specifies the minimum number of data points which must be seen in a leaf before it can be split, and another specifies a minimum quality threshold that the best split in a leaf must reach. This is similar in flavor to the technique used by Hoeffding trees, but trades theoretical guarantees for more interpretable parameters. One active avenue of research in online random forests involves tracking non-stationary distributions, also known as concept drift. Many of the online techniques incorporate features designed for this problem (Gama et al., 2005; Abdulsalam, 2008; Saffari et al., 2009; Bifet et al., 2009; 2012). However, tracking of nonstationarity is beyond the scope of this paper. The most well known theoretical result for random forests is that of Breiman (2001), which gives an upper bound on the generalization error of the forest in

terms of the correlation and strength of trees. Following Breiman (2001), an interpretation of random forests as an adaptive neighborhood weighting scheme was published in Lin & Jeon (2002). This was followed by the first consistency result in this area from Breiman (2004), which proves consistency of a simplified model of the random forests used in practice. In the context of quantile regression the consistency of a certain model of random forests has been shown by Meinshausen (2006). A model of random forests for survival analysis was shown to be consistent in Ishwaran & Kogalur (2010). Significant recent work in this direction comes from Biau et al. (2008) who prove the consistency of a variety of ensemble methods built by averaging base classifiers, as is done in random forests. A key feature of the consistency of the tree construction algorithms they present is a proposition that states that if the base classifier is consistent then the forest, which takes a majority vote of these classifiers, is itself consistent. The most recent theoretical study, and the one which achieves the closest match between theory and practice, is that of Biau (2012). The most significant way in which their model differs from practice is that it requires a second data set which is not used to fit the leaf predictors in order to make decisions about variable importance when growing the trees. One of the innovations of the model we present in this paper is a way to circumvent this limitation in an online setting while maintaining consistency.

3. Random Forests
In this section we briefly review the random forests framework. For a more comprehensive review we refer the reader to Breiman (2001) and Criminisi et al. (2011). Random forests are built by combining the predictions of several trees, each of which is trained in isolation. Unlike in boosting (Schapire & Freund, 2012) where the base classifiers are trained and combined using a sophisticated weighting scheme, typically the trees are trained independently and the predictions of the trees are combined through a simple majority vote. There are three main choices to be made when constructing a random tree. These are (1) the method for splitting the leafs, (2) the type of predictor to use in each leaf, and (3) the method for injecting randomness into the trees. Specifying a method for splitting leafs requires selecting the shapes of candidate splits as well as a method

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for evaluating the quality of each candidate. Typical choices here are to use axis aligned splits, where data are routed to sub-trees depending on whether or not they exceed a threshold value in a chosen dimension; or linear splits, where a linear combination of features are thresholded to make a decision. The threshold value in either case can be chosen randomly or by optimizing a function of the data in the leafs.

4. Online Random Forests with Stream Partitioning
In this section we describe the workings of our online random forest algorithm. A more precise (pseudocode) description of the training procedure can be found in Appendix A. 4.1. Forest Construction The random forest classifier is constructed by building a collection of random tree classifiers in parallel. Each tree is built independently and in isolation from the other trees in the forest. Unlike many other random forest algorithms we do not preform bootstrapping or subsampling at this level; however, the individual trees each have their own optional mechanism for subsampling the data they receive.

Figure 1. Three potential splits for a leaf node and the class histograms for the children each split would create. The rightmost split creates the purest children and will have the greatest information gain.

4.2. Tree Construction Each node of the tree is associated with a rectangular subset of RD , and at each step of the construction the collection of cells associated with the leafs of the tree forms a partition of RD . The root of the tree is RD itself. At each step we receive a data point (Xt , Yt ) from the environment. Each point is assigned to one of two possible streams at random with fixed probability. We denote stream membership with the variable It ∈ {s, e}. How the tree is updated at each time step depends on which stream the corresponding data point is assigned to. We refer to the two streams as the structure stream and the estimation stream; points assigned to these streams are structure and estimation points, respectively. These names reflect the different uses of the two streams in the construction of the tree: Structure points are allowed to influence the structure of the tree partition, i.e. the locations of candidate split points and the statistics used to choose between candidates, but they are not permitted to influence the predictions that are made in each leaf of the tree. Estimation points are not permitted to influence the shape of the tree partition, but can be used to estimate class membership probabilities in whichever leaf they are assigned to. Only two streams are needed to build a consistent forest, but there is no reason we cannot have more. For instance, we explored the use of a third stream for points that the tree should ignore completely, which gives a form of online sub-sampling in each tree. We found empirically that including this third stream hurts performance of the algorithm, but its presence

In order to split a leaf, a collection of candidate splits are generated and a criterion is evaluated to choose between them. A simple strategy is to choose among the candidates uniformly at random, as in the models analyzed in Biau et al. (2008). A more common approach is to choose the candidate split which optimizes a purity function over the leafs that would be created. Typical choices here are to maximize the information gain, or the Gini gain (Hastie et al., 2013). This situation is illustrated in Figure 1. The most common choice for predictors in each leaf is to use the majority vote over the training points which fall in that leaf. Criminisi et al. (2011) explore the use of several different leaf predictors for regression and manifold learning, but these generalizations are beyond the scope of this paper. We consider majority vote classifiers in our model. Injecting randomness into the tree construction can happen in many ways. The choice of which dimensions to use as split candidates at each leaf can be randomized, as well as the choice of coefficients for random combinations of features. In either case, thresholds can be chosen either randomly or by optimization over some or all of the data in the leaf. Another common method for introducing randomness is to build each tree using a bootstrapped or subsampled data set. In this way, each tree in the forest is trained on slightly different data, which introduces differences between the trees.

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or absence does not affect the theoretical properties. 4.3. Leaf Splitting Mechanism When a leaf is created the number of candidate split dimensions for the new leaf is set to min(1 + Poisson(λ), D), and this many distinct candidate dimensions are selected uniformly at random. We then collect m candidate splits in each candidate dimension (m is a parameter of the algorithm) by projecting the first m structure points to arrive in the newly created leaf onto the candidate dimensions. We maintain several structural statistics for each candidate split. Specifically, for each candidate split we maintain class histograms for each of the new leafs it would create, using data from the estimation stream. We also maintain structural statistics, computed from data in the structure stream, which can be used to choose between the candidate splits. The specific form of the structural statistics does not affect the consistency of our model, but it is crucial that they depend only on data in the structure stream. Finally, we require two additional conditions which control when a leaf at depth d is split: 1. Before a candidate split can be chosen, the class histograms in each of the leafs it would create must incorporate information from at least α(d) estimation points. 2. If any leaf receives more than β (d) estimation points, and the previous condition is satisfied for any candidate split in that leaf, then when the next structure point arrives in this leaf it must be split regardless of the state of the structural statistics. The first condition ensures that leafs are not split too often, and the second condition ensures that no branch of the tree ever stops growing completely. In order to ensure consistency we require that α(d) → ∞ monotonically in d. We also require that β (d) ≥ α(d) for convenience. When a structure point arrives in a leaf, if the first condition is satisfied for some candidate split then the leaf may optionally be split at the corresponding point. The decision of whether to split the leaf or wait to collect more data is made on the basis of the structural statistics collected for the candidate splits in that leaf. 4.4. Structural Statistics In each candidate child we maintain an estimate of the posterior probability of each class, as well as the total

number of points we have seen fall in the candidate child, both counted from the structure stream. In order to decide if a leaf should be split, we compute the information gain for each candidate split which satisfies condition 1 from the previous section, I (S ) = H (A) − |A | |A | H (A ) − H (A ) . |A| |A|

Here S is the candidate split, A is the cell belonging to the leaf to be split, and A and A are the two leafs that would be created if A were split at S . The function H (A) is the discrete entropy, computed over the labels of the structure points which fall in the cell A. We select the candidate split with the largest information gain for splitting, provided this split achieves a minimum threshold in information gain, τ . The value of τ is a parameter of our algorithm. 4.5. Prediction At any time the online forest can be used to make predictions for unlabelled data points using the model built from the labelled data it has seen so far. To make a prediction for a query point x at time t, each tree computes, for each class k ,
k ηt (x) =

1 N e (A
t (x)) (Xτ ,Yτ )∈At (x) Iτ =e

I {Yτ = k } ,

where At (x) denotes the leaf of the tree containing x at time t, and N e (At (x)) is the number of estimation points which have been counted in At (x) during its lifetime. Similarly, the sum is over the labels of these points. The tree prediction is then the class which maximizes this value:
k gt (x) = arg max{ηt (x)} . k

The forest predicts the class which receives the most votes from the individual trees. Note that this requires that we maintain class histograms from both the structure and estimation streams separately for each candidate child in the fringe of the tree. The counts from the structure stream are used to select between candidate split points, and the counts from the estimation stream are used to initialize the parameters in the newly created leafs after a split is made. 4.6. Memory Management The typical approach to building trees online, which is employed in Domingos & Hulten (2000) and Saffari et al. (2009), is to maintain a fringe of candidate

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children in each leaf of the tree. The algorithm collects statistics in each of these candidate children until some (algorithm dependent) criterion is met, at which point a pair of candidate children is selected to replace their parent. The selected children become leafs in the new tree, acquiring their own candidate children, and the process repeats. Our algorithm also uses this approach. The difficulty here is that the trees must be grown breadth first, and maintaining the fringe of potential children is very memory intensive when the trees are large. Our algorithm also suffers from this deficiency, as maintaining the fringe requires O(cmd) statistics in each leaf, where d is the number of candidate split dimensions, m is the number of candidate split points (i.e. md pairs of candidate children per leaf) and c is the number of classes in the problem. The number of leafs grows exponentially fast with tree depth, meaning that for deep trees this memory cost becomes prohibitive. Offline forests do not suffer from this problem, because they are able to grow the trees depth first. Since they do not need to accumulate statistics for more than one leaf at a time, the cost of computing even several megabytes of statistics per split is negligible. Although the size of the trees still grows exponentially with depth, this memory cost is dwarfed by the savings from not needing to store split statistics for all the leafs. In practice the memory problem is resolved either by growing small trees, as in Saffari et al. (2009), or by bounding the number of nodes in the fringe of the tree, as in Domingos & Hulten (2000). Other models of streaming random forests, such as those discussed in Abdulsalam (2008), build trees in sequence instead of in parallel, which reduces the total memory usage. Our algorithm makes use of a bounded fringe and adopts the technique of Domingos & Hulten (2000) to control the policy for adding and removing leafs from the fringe. In each tree we partition the leafs into two sets: we have a set of active leafs, for which we collect split statistics as described in earlier sections, and a set of inactive leafs for which we store only two numbers. We call the set of active leafs the fringe of the tree, and describe a policy for controlling how inactive leafs are added to the fringe. In each inactive leaf At we store the following two quantities • p ˆ(At ) which is an estimate of µ(At ) = P (X ∈ At ),

and • e ˆ(At ) which is an estimate P (gt (X ) = Y | X ∈ At ). of e(A) =

Both of these are estimated based on the estimation points which arrive in At during its lifetime. From these two numbers we form the statistic s ˆ(A) = p ˆ(A)ˆ e(A) (with corresponding true value s(A) = p(A)e(A)) which is an upper bound on the improvement in error rate that can be obtained by splitting A. Membership in the fringe is controlled by s ˆ(A). When a leaf is split it relinquishes its place in the fringe and the inactive leaf with the largest value of s ˆ(A) is chosen to take its place. The newly created leafs from the split are initially inactive and must compete with the other inactive leafs for entry into the fringe. Unlike Domingos & Hulten (2000), who use this technique only as a heuristic for managing memory use, we incorporate the memory management directly into our analysis. The analysis in Appendix B shows that our algorithm, including a limited size fringe, is consistent.

5. Theory
In this section we state our main theoretical results and give an outline of the strategy for establishing consistency of our online random forest algorithm. In the interest of space and clarity we do not include proofs in this section. Unless otherwise noted, the proofs of all claims appear in Appendix B. We denote the tree partition created by our online random forest algorithm from t data points as gt . As t varies we obtain a sequence of classifiers, and we are interested in showing that the sequence {gt } is consistent, or more precisely that the probability of error of gt converges in probability to the Bayes risk, i.e. L(gt ) = P (gt (X, Z ) = Y | Dt ) → L∗ , as t → ∞. Here (X, Y ) is a random test point and Z denotes the randomness in the tree construction algorithm. Dt is the training set (of size t) and the probability in the convergence is over the random selection of Dt . The Bayes risk is the probability of error of the Bayes classifier, which is the classifier that makes predictions by choosing the class with the highest posterior probability, g (x) = arg max P (Y = k | X = x) ,
k

(where ties are broken in favour of the smaller index). The Bayes risk L(g ) = L∗ is the minimum achievable

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risk of any classifier for the distribution of (X, Y ). In order to ease notation, we drop the explicit dependence on Dt in the remainder of this paper. More information about this setting can be found in Devroye et al. (1996). Our main result is the following theorem: Theorem 1. Suppose the distribution of X has a density with respect to the Lebesgue measure and that this density is bounded from above and below. Then the online random forest classifier described in this paper is consistent. The first step in proving Theorem 1 is to show that the consistency of a voting classifier, such as a random forest, follows from the consistency of the base classifiers. We prove the following proposition, which is a straightforward generalization of a proposition from Biau et al. (2008), who prove the same result for two class ensembles. Proposition 2. Assume that the sequence {gt } of randomized classifiers is consistent for a certain distribu(M ) tion of (X, Y ). Then the voting classifier, gt obtained by taking the majority vote over M (not necessarily independent) copies of gt is also consistent. With Proposition 2 established, the remainder of the effort goes into proving the consistency of our tree construction. The first step is to separate the stream splitting randomness from the remaining randomness in the tree construction. We show that if a classifier is conditionally consistent based on the outcome of some random variable, and the sampling process for this random variable generates acceptable values with probability 1, then the resulting classifier is unconditionally consistent. Proposition 3. Suppose {gt } is a sequence of classifiers whose probability of error converges conditionally in probability to the Bayes risk L∗ for a specified distribution on (X, Y ), i.e. P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y | I ) → L∗ for all I ∈ I and that ν is a distribution on I . If ν (I ) = 1 then the probability of error converges unconditionally in probability, i.e. P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y ) → L∗ In particular, {gt } is consistent for the specified distribution. Proposition 3 allows us to condition on the random variables {It }∞ t=1 which partition the data stream into

structure and estimation points in each tree. Provided that the random partitioning process produces acceptable sequences with probability 1, it is sufficient to show that the random tree classifier is consistent conditioned on such a sequence. In particular, in the remainder of the argument we assume that {It }∞ t=1 is a fixed, deterministic sequence which assigns infinitely many points to each of the structure and estimation streams. We refer to such a sequence as a partitioning sequence. S I E

Figure 2. The dependency structure of our algorithm. S represents the randomness in the structure of the tree partition, E represents the randomness in the leaf estimators and I represents the randomness in the partitioning of the data stream. E and S are independent conditioned on I .

The reason this is useful is that conditioning on a partitioning sequence breaks the dependence between the structure of the tree partition and the estimators in the leafs. This is a powerful tool because it gives us access to a class of consistency theorems which rely on this type of independence. However, before we are able to apply these theorems we must further reduce our problem to proving the consistency of estimators of the posterior distribution of each class. Proposition 4. Suppose we have regression estik mates, ηt (x), for each class posterior η k (x) = P (Y = k | X = x), and that these estimates are each consistent. The classifier
k gt (x) = arg max{ηt (x)} k

(where ties are broken in favour of the smaller index) is consistent for the corresponding multiclass classification problem. Proposition 4 allows us to reduce the consistency of the multiclass classifier to the problem of proving the consistency of several two class posterior estimates. Given a set of classes {1, . . . , c} we can re-assign the labels using the map (X, Y ) → (X, I {Y = k }) for any k ∈ {1, . . . , c} in order to get a two class problem where P (Y = 1 | X = x) in this new problem is equal to η k (x) in the original multiclass problem. Thus to prove consistency of the multiclass classifier it is enough to show that each of these two class posteriors is consistent. To this end we make use of the following theorem from Devroye et al. (1996). Theorem 5. Consider a partitioning classification rule which builds a prediction ηt (x) of η (x) = P (Y = 1 | X = x) by averaging the labels in each cell

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of the partition. If the labels of the voting points do not influence the structure of the partition then E [|ηt (x) − η (x)|] → 0 provided that 1. diam(At (X )) → 0 in probability, 2. N e (At (X )) → ∞ in probability.

6. Experiments
In this section we demonstrate some empirical results on simple problems in order to illustrate the properties of our algorithm. We also provide a comparison to an existing online random forest algorithm. Following the review process we plan to release code to reproduce all of the experiments in this section.
0.70

Forest and tree accuracy

Proof. See Theorem 6.1 in Devroye et al. (1996). Here At (X ) refers to the cell of the tree partition containing a random test point X , and diam(A) indicates the diameter of set A. The diameter is defined as the maximum distance between any two points falling in A, diam(A) = sup ||x − y || .
x,y ∈A

0.65 0.60

0.55 0.50 0.45 0.40 0.35 2 10 103

Trees Forest Bayes Data Size
104

The quantity N e (At (X )) is the number of points contributing to the estimation of the posterior at X . This theorem places two requirements on the cells of the partition. The first condition ensures that the cells are sufficiently small that small details of the posterior distribution can be represented. The second condition requires that the cells be large enough that we are able to obtain high quality estimates of the posterior probability in each cell. The leaf splitting mechanism described in Section 4.3 ensures that the second condition of Theorem 5 is satisfied. However, showing that our algorithm satisfies the first condition requires significantly more work. The chief difficulty lies in showing that every leaf of the tree will be split infinitely often in probability. Once this claim is established a relatively straightforward calculation shows that the expected size of each dimension of a leaf is reduced each time it is split. So far we have described the approach to proving consistency of our algorithm with an unbounded fringe. If the tree is small (i.e. never has more leafs than the maximum fringe size) then the analysis is unchanged. However, since our trees are required to grow to unbounded size this is not possible. To handle this case we derive an upper bound on the time required for an inactive leaf to enter the fringe. Once the leaf it remains there until it is split and the analysis from the unbounded fringe case applies. These details are somewhat technical, so we refer the interested reader to Appendix B for more information, as well as the proofs of the propositions stated in this section.

Figure 3. Prediction accuracy of the forest and the trees it averages on a simple mixture of Gaussians problem. The horizontal line shows the accuracy of the Bayes classifier on this problem. We see that the accuracy of the forest consistently dominates the expected accuracy of the trees. The forest in this example contains 100 trees. Error regions show one standard deviation computed over 10 runs.

6.1. Advantage of a Forest Our first experiment demonstrates that although the individual trees are consistent classifiers, empirically the performance of the forest is significantly better than each of the trees for problems with finite data. We demonstrate this on a synthetic five class mixture of Gaussians problem with significant class overlap and variation in prior weights. From Figure 3 it is clear that the forest converges much more quickly than the individual trees. Result profiles of this kind are common in the boosting and random forests literature; however, in practice one often uses inconsistent base classifiers in the ensemble (e.g. boosting with decision stumps or random forests where the trees are grown to full size). This experiment demonstrates that although our base classifiers provably converge, empirically there is still a benefit from averaging in finite time. 6.2. Growing leaves Our next experiment demonstrates the importance of the condition that α(d) → ∞, i.e. having the num-

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Gap to Bayes Error
α (d ) = 1 α (d ) = 2 d Excess Error

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Figure 4. Excess error above the Bayes risk for a simple synthetic problem. The solid line shows the excess error for a forest where each tree is built to full depth. The dashed line shows a forest where each tree requires 2d examples in a leaf at level d in order to split. Both forests contain 100 trees.

Figure 5. Comparison between offline random forests and our online algorithm on the USPS data set. The online forest uses 10 passes through the data set. The third line is our implementation of the algorithm from Saffari et al. (2009); the performance shown here is identical to what they report. Error regions show one standard deviation computed over 10 runs.

6.3. Comparison to Offline ber of data points in each leaf grow over time. We demonstrate this using a synthetic two class distribution specifically designed to exhibit problems when α(d) does not grow. In the distribution we construct, P (X = x) is uniform on the unit square in R2 , and the posterior P (Y = 1 | X = x) = 0.5001 for all x. Figure 4 shows the excess error of two forests trained on several data sets of different sizes sampled from this distribution. In one of the forests the trees are grown to full depth, while in the other we force the size of the leafs to increase with their depth in the tree. As can be seen in Figure 4, building trees to full depth prevents the forest from making progress towards the Bayes error over a huge range of data set sizes, whereas the forest composed of trees with growing leafs steadily decreases its excess error. Admittedly, this scenario is quite artificial, and it can be difficult to find real problems where the difference is so pronounced. It is still an open question as to whether a forest can be made consistent by averaging over an infinite number of trees of full depth (although see Breiman (2004) and Biau (2012) for results in this direction). The purpose of this example is to show that in the common scenario where the number of trees is a fixed parameter of the algorithm, having leafs that grow over time is important. In our third experiment, we demonstrate that our online algorithm is able to achieve similar performance to an offline implementation of random forests and also compare to an existing online random forests algorithm on a small non-synthetic problem. In particular, we demonstrate this on the USPS data set from the LibSVM repository (Chang & Lin, 2011). We have chosen the USPS data for this experiment because it allows us to compare our results directly to those of Saffari et al. (2009), whose algorithm is very similar to our own. In the interest of comparability we also use a forest of 100 trees and set the minimum information gain threshold (τ in our model) to 0.1. We show results from both online algorithms with 10 passes through the data. Figure 5 shows that we are able to achieve performance very similar to the offline random forest on the full data. The performance we achieve is identical to the performance reported by Saffari et al. (2009) on this data set. 6.4. Kinect application For our final experiment we evaluate our online random forest algorithm on the challenging computer vision problem of predicting human body part labels from a depth image. Our procedure closely follows the work of Shotton et al. (2011) which is used in the commercially successful Kinect system. Applying the

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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Kinect

α(d) =10 ·(1.01d )

Saffari et al. (2009) Data Size
104 105 106

Figure 6. Left: Depth, ground truth body parts and predicted body parts. Right: A candidate feature specified by two offsets.

Figure 7. Comparison of our online algorithm with Saffari et al. (2009) on the kinect application; Our algorithm does significantly better with less memory.

same approach as Shotton et al. (2011), our online classifier predicts the body part label of a single pixel P in a depth image. To predict all the labels of a depth image, the classifier is applied to every pixel in parrallel. For our dataset, we generate pairs of 640x480 resolution depth and body part images by rendering random poses from the CMU mocap dataset. The 19 body parts and one background class are represented by 20 unique color identifiers in the body part image. Figure 6 (left) visualizes the raw depth image, ground truth body part labels and body parts predicted by our classifier for one pose. During training, we sample 50 pixels without replacement for each body part class from each pose; thus, producing 1000 data points for each depth image. During testing we evaluate the prediction accuracy of all non background pixels as this provides a more informative accuracy metric since most of the pixels are background and are relatively easy to predict. For this experiment we use a stream of 1000 poses for training and 500 poses for testing. Each node of each decision tree computes the depth difference between two pixels described by two offsets from P (the pixel being classified). At training time, candidate pairs of offsets are sampled from a 2dimensional Gaussian distributions with variance 75.0. The offsets are scaled by the depth of the pixel P to produce depth invariant features. Figure 6 (right) visualizes a candidate feature for the pixel in the green box. The resulting feature value is the depth difference between the pixel in the red box and the pixel in the white box. In this experiment we construct a forest of 25 trees with 2000 candidate offsets (λ), 10 candidate splits

(m) and a minimum information gain of 0.01 (τ ). For Saffari et al. (2009) we set the number of sample points required to split to 10 and for our own algorithm we set α(d) = 10 · (1.01d ) and β (d) = 4 · α(d). With this parameter setting each active leaf stores 20 · 10 · 2000 · 2 = 400, 000 statistics which requires 1.6MB of memory. By limiting the fringe to 1000 active leaves our algorithm requires 1.6GB of memory for leaf statistics. To limit the maximum memory used by Saffari et al. (2009) we set the maximum depth to 8 which uses up to 25 · 28 = 6400 active leaves which requires up to 10GB of memory for leaf statistics. Figure 7 shows that our algorithm achieves significantly better accuracy while requiring less memory. However, our algorithm does not do as well when seeing a small number of data points. This is likely a result of separating data points into structure and estimation streams and not including all leaves in the active set.

7. Discussion and Future Work
In this paper we described an algorithm for building online random forests and showed that our algorithm is consistent. To the best of our knowledge this is the first consistency result for online random forests. The theory guides certain choices made when designing our algorithm, notably that it is necessary for the leafs in each tree to increase in size over time. Our experiments on simple problems confirm that this requirement is important. Growing trees online in the obvious way requires large amounts of memory, since the trees must be grown breadth first and each leaf must store are large num-

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Accuracy

Consistency of Online Random Forests

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ber of statistics related to its potential children. We incorporated a memory management technique from Domingos & Hulten (2000) in order to limit the number of leafs in the fringe of the tree. This refinement is important, since it enables our algorithm to grow large trees. The analysis shows that our algorithm is still consistent with this refinement. Finally, our current algorithm is restricted to axis aligned splits. Many implementations of random forests use more elaborate split shapes, such as random linear or quadratic combinations of features. These strategies can be highly effective in practice, especially in sparse or high dimensional settings. Understanding how to maintain consistency in these settings is another potentially interesting direction of inquiry.

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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References
H. Abdulsalam. Streaming Random Forests. PhD thesis, Queens University, 2008. G. Biau. Analysis of a Random Forests model. JMLR, 13 (April):1063–1095, 2012. G. Biau, L. Devroye, and G. Lugosi. Consistency of random forests and other averaging classifiers. JMLR, 9:2015– 2033, 2008. A. Bifet, G. Holmes, and B. Pfahringer. MOA: Massive Online Analysis, a framework for stream classification and clustering. In Workshop on Applications of Pattern Analysis, pp. 3–16, 2010. A. Bifet, E. Frank, G. Holmes, and B. Pfahringer. Ensembles of Restricted Hoeffding Trees. ACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology, 3(2):1–20, February 2012. A. Bifet, G. Holmes, and B. Pfahringer. New ensemble methods for evolving data streams. In ACM SIGKDD Intl. Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, 2009. A. Bosch, A. Zisserman, and X. Munoz. Image classification using random forests and ferns. In International Conference on Computer Vision, pp. 1–8, 2007. L. Breiman. Random forests. Machine Learning, 45(1): 5–32, 2001. L. Breiman. Consistency for a Simple Model of Random Forests. Technical report, University of California at Berkeley, 2004. L. Breiman, J. Friedman, C. Stone, and R. Olshen. Classification and Regression Trees. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, Florida, 1984. C. Chang and C. Lin. LIBSVM: A library for support vector machines. ACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology, 2:27:1–27:27, 2011. G. Cormode. Sketch techniques for approximate query processing. Synposes for Approximate Query Processing: Samples, Histograms, Wavelets and Sketches, Foundations and Trends in Databases, 2011. G. Cormode and S. Muthukrishnan. An improved data stream summary: the count-min sketch and its applications. Journal of Algorithms, 55(1):58–75, April 2005. A. Criminisi, J. Shotton, and E. Konukoglu. Decision forests: A unified framework for classification, regression, density estimation, manifold learning and semisupervised learning. Foundations and Trends in Computer Graphics and Vision, 7(2-3):81–227, 2011. D. Cutler, T. Edwards, and K. Beard. Random forests for classification in ecology. Ecology, 88(11):2783–92, November 2007. L. Devroye, L. Gy¨ orfi, and G. Lugosi. A Probabilistic Theory of Pattern Recognition. Springer-Verlag, New York,

USA, 1996. P. Domingos and G. Hulten. Mining high-speed data streams. In International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, pp. 71–80. ACM, 2000. J. Gama, P. Medas, and P. Rodrigues. Learning decision trees from dynamic data streams. In ACM symposium on Applied computing, SAC ’05, pp. 573–577, New York, NY, USA, 2005. ACM. T. Hastie, R. Tibshirani, and J. Friedman. The Elements of Statistical Learning. Springer, 10 edition, 2013. H. Ishwaran and U. Kogalur. Consistency of random survival forests. Statistics and Probability Letters, 80:1056– 1064, 2010. Y. Lin and Y. Jeon. Random forests and adaptive nearest neighbors. Technical Report 1055, University of Wisconsin, 2002. N. Meinshausen. Quantile regression forests. JMLR, 7: 983–999, 2006. N. Oza and S. Russel. Online Bagging and Boosting. In Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, volume 3, 2001. A. Prasad, L. Iverson, and A. Liaw. Newer Classification and Regression Tree Techniques: Bagging and Random Forests for Ecological Prediction. Ecosystems, 9(2):181– 199, March 2006. ISSN 1432-9840. A. Saffari, C. Leistner, J. Santner, M. Godec, and H. Bischof. On-line random forests. In International Conference on Computer Vision Workshops (ICCV Workshops), pp. 1393–1400. IEEE, 2009. R. Schapire and Y. Freund. Boosting: Foundations and Algorithms. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012. J. Shotton, A. Fitzgibbon, M. Cook, T. Sharp, M. Finocchio, R. Moore, A. Kipman, and A. Blake. Real-time human pose recognition in parts from single depth images. CVPR, pp. 1297–1304, 2011. V. Svetnik, A. Liaw, C. Tong, J. Culberson, R. Sheridan, and B. Feuston. Random forest: a classification and regression tool for compound classification and QSAR modeling. Journal of Chemical Information and Computer Sciences, 43(6):1947–58, 2003.

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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A. Algorithm pseudo-code
Candidate split dimension A dimension along which a split may be made. Poisson(λ), D) of these when it is created. Candidate split point One of the first m structure points to arrive in a leaf. Candidate split A combination of a candidate split dimension and a position along that dimension to split. These are formed by projecting each candidate split point into each candidate split dimension. Candidate children Each candidate split in a leaf induces two candidate children for that leaf. These are also referred to as the left and right child of that split. N e (A) is a count of estimation points in the cell A, and Y e (A) is the histogram of labels of these points in A. N s (A) is a count of structure point in the cell A, and Y s (A) is the histogram of labels of these points in A. Algorithm 1 BuildTree Require: Initially the tree has exactly one leaf (TreeRoot) which covers the whole space Require: The dimensionality of the input, D. Parameters λ, m and τ . SelectCandidateSplitDimensions(TreeRoot, min(1 + Poisson(λ), D)) for t = 1 . . . do Receive (Xt , Yt , It ) from the environment At ← leaf containing Xt if It = estimation then UpdateEstimationStatistics(At , (Xt , Yt )) for all S ∈ CandidateSplits(At ) do for all A ∈ CandidateChildren(S ) do if Xt ∈ A then UpdateEstimationStatistics(A, (Xt , Yt )) end if end for end for else if It = structure then if At has fewer than m candidate split points then for all d ∈ CandidateSplitDimensions(At ) do CreateCandidateSplit(At , d, πd Xt ) end for end if for all S ∈ CandidateSplits(At ) do for all A ∈ CandidateChildren(S ) do if Xt ∈ A then UpdateStructuralStatistics(A, (Xt , Yt )) end if end for end for if CanSplit(At ) then if ShouldSplit(At ) then Split(At ) else if MustSplit(At ) then Split(At ) end if end if end if end for Each leaf selects min(1 +

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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Algorithm 2 Split Require: A leaf A S ← BestSplit(A) A ← LeftChild(A) SelectCandidateSplitDimensions(A , Poisson(λ), D)) A ← RightChild(A) SelectCandidateSplitDimensions(A , Poisson(λ), D)) return A , A Algorithm 3 CanSplit Require: A leaf A d ← Depth(A) for all S ∈ CandidateSplits(A) do if SplitIsValid(A, S ) then return true end if end for return false

min(1

+

Algorithm 5 MustSplit Require: A leaf A d ← Depth(A) return N e (A) ≥ β (d) Algorithm 6 ShouldSplit Require: A leaf A for all S ∈ CandidateSplits(A) do if InformationGain(S ) > τ then if SplitIsValid(A, S ) then return true end if end if end for return false Algorithm 7 BestSplit Require: A leaf A Require: At least one valid candidate split exists for A best split ← none for all S ∈ CandidateSplits(A) do if InformationGain(A, S ) > InformationGain(A, best split) then if SplitIsValid(A, S ) then best split ← S end if end if end for return best split Algorithm 8 InformationGain Require: A leaf A Require: A split S A ← LeftChild(S ) A ← RightChild(S ) s (A ) s return Entropy(Y s (A))− N N s (A) Entropy(Y (A ))−
N s (A ) N s (A)

min(1

+

Algorithm 4 SplitIsValid Require: A leaf A Require: A split S d ← Depth(A) A ← LeftChild(S ) A ← RightChild(S ) return N e (A ) ≥ α(d) and N e (A ) ≥ α(d)

Entropy(Y s (A ))

Algorithm 9 UpdateEstimationStatistics Require: A leaf A Require: A point (X, Y ) N e (A) ← N e (A) + 1 Y e (A) ← Y e (A) + Y Algorithm 10 UpdateStructuralStatistics Require: A leaf A Require: A point (X, Y ) N s ( A) ← N s ( A) + 1 Y s ( A) ← Y s ( A) + Y

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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B. Proof of Consistency
B.1. A note on notation A will be reserved for subsets of RD , and unless otherwise indicated it can be assumed that A denotes a cell of the tree partition. We will often be interested in the cell of the tree partition containing a particular point, which we denote A(x). Since the partition changes over time, and therefore the shape of A(x) changes as well, we use a subscript to disambiguate: At (x) is the cell of the partition containing x at time t. Cells in the tree partition have a lifetime which begins when they are created as a candidate child to an existing leaf and ends when they are themselves split into two children. When referring to a point Xτ ∈ At (x) it is understood that τ is restricted to the lifetime of At (x). We treat cells of the tree partition and leafs of the tree defining it interchangeably, denoting both with an appropriately decorated A. N generally refers to the number of points of some type in some interval of time. The various decorations the N receives specify which particular type of point or interval of time is being considered. A superscript always denotes type, so N k refers to a count of points of type k . Two special types, e and s, are used to denote k estimation and structure points, respectively. Pairs of subscripts are used to denote time intervals, so Na,b denotes the number of points of type k which appear during the time interval [a, b]. We also use N as a function e whose argument is a subset of RD in order to restrict the counting spatially: Na,b (A) refers to the number of estimation points which fall in the set A during the time interval [a, b]. We make use of one additional variant of N as a function when its argument is a cell in the partition: when we write N k (At (x)), without subscripts on N , the interval of time we count over is understood to be the lifetime of the cell At (x). B.2. Preliminaries Lemma 6. Suppose we partition a stream of data into c parts by assigning each point (Xt , Yt ) to part It ∈ {1, . . . , c} with fixed probability pk , meaning that
b k Na,b = t=a k Then with probability 1, Na,b → ∞ for all k ∈ {1, . . . , c} as b − a → ∞.

I {It = k } .

(1)

Proof. Note that P (It = 1) = p1 and these events are independent for each t. By the second Borel-Cantelli lemma, the probability that the events in this sequence occur infinitely often is 1. The cases for It ∈ {2, . . . , c} are similar. Lemma 7. Let Xt be a sequence of iid random variables with distribution µ, let A be a fixed set such that µ(A) > 0 and let {It } be a fixed partitioning sequence. Then the random variable
k Na,b ( A) = a≤t≤b:It =k k is Binomial with parameters Na,b and µ(A). In particular, k P Na,b (A) ≤

I {Xt ∈ A}

µ(A) k Na,b 2

≤ exp −

µ(A)2 k Na,b 2

k which goes to 0 as b − a → ∞, where Na,b is the deterministic quantity defined as in Equation 1. k Proof. Na,b (A) is a sum of iid indicator random variables so it is Binomial. It has the specified parameters k k k because it is a sum over Na,b elements and P (Xt ∈ A) = µ(A). Moreover, E Na,b (A) = µ(A)Na,b so by Hoeffding’s inequality we have that k k k k k k P Na,b (A) ≤ E Na,b (A) − Na,b = P Na,b (A) ≤ Na,b (µ(A) − ) ≤ exp −2 2 Na,b

.

Setting

=

1 2 µ(A)

gives the desired result.

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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B.3. Proof of Proposition 2 Proof. Let g (x) denote the Bayes classifier. Consistency of {gt } is equivalent to saying that E [L(gt )] = P (gt (X, Z ) = Y ) → L∗ . In fact, since P (gt (X, Z ) = Y | X = x) ≥ P (g (X ) = Y | X = x) for all x ∈ RD , consistency of {gt } means that for µ-almost all x, P (gt (X, Z ) = Y | X = x) → P (g (X ) = Y | X = x) = 1 − max{η k (x)}
k

Define the following two sets of indices G = {k | η k (x) = max{η k (x)}} ,
k

B = {k | η k (x) < max{η k (x)}} .
k

Then P (gt (X, Z ) = Y | X = x) =
k

P (gt (X, Z ) = k | X = x) P (Y = k |X = x) P (gt (X, Z ) = k | X = x) +
k ∈G (M ) k ∈B

≤ (1 − max{η k (x)})
k

P (gt (X, Z ) = k | X = x) ,

which means it suffices to show that P gt

(X, Z M ) = k | X = x → 0 for all k ∈ B . However, using Z M to

denote M (possibly dependent) copies of Z , for all k ∈ B , 
M

M c=k

 I {gt (x, Zj ) = c}

P gt

(M )

(x, Z M ) = k = P 
j =1

I {gt (x, Zj ) = k } > max
j =1 M

 ≤ P

 I {gt (x, Zj ) = k } ≥ 1

j =1

By Markov’s inequality,  ≤ E
j =1 M

 I {gt (x, Zj ) = k }

= M P (gt (x, Z ) = k ) → 0

B.4. Proof of Proposition 3 Proof. The sequence in question is uniformly integrable, so it is sufficient to show that E [P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y | I )] → L∗ implies the result, where the expectation is taken over the random selection of training set. We can write P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y ) = E [P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y | I )] =
I

P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y | I ) ν (I ) +
Ic

P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y | I ) ν (I )

By assumption ν (I c ) = 0, so we have lim P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y ) = lim P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y | I ) ν (I )
I

t→∞

t→∞

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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Since probabilities are bounded in the interval [0, 1], the dominated convergence theorem allows us to exchange the integral and the limit, = lim P (gt (X, Z, I ) = Y | I ) ν (I )

I t→∞

and by assumption the conditional risk converges to the Bayes risk for all I ∈ I , so = L∗
I

ν (I )

= L∗ which proves the claim. B.5. Proof of Proposition 4 Proof. By definition, the rule g (x) = arg max{η k (x)}
k

(where ties are broken in favour of smaller k ) achieves the Bayes risk. In the case where all the η k (x) are equal there is nothing to prove, since all choices have the same probability of error. Therefore, suppose there is at least one k such that η k (x) < η g(x) (x) and define m(x) = η g(x) (x) − max{η k (x) | η k (x) < η g(x) (x)}
k k

m t ( x) = η t

g ( x)

k (x) − max{ηt (x) | η k (x) < η g(x) (x)}

The function m(x) ≥ 0 is the margin function which measures how much better the best choice is than the second best choice, ignoring possible ties for best. The function mt (x) measures the margin of gt (x). If mt (x) > 0 then gt (x) has the same probability of error as the Bayes classifier. The assumption above guarantees that there is some classes, by making t large we can satisfy such that m(x) > . Using C to denote the number of

k P |ηt (X ) − η k (X )| < /2 ≥ 1 − δ/C k since ηt is consistent. Thus C C k |ηt (X ) − η k (X )| < /2 k=1

P

≥1−K +
k=1

k P |ηt (X ) − η k (X )| < /2 ≥ 1 − δ

So with probability at least 1 − δ we have mt (X ) = ηt
g (X ) k − max{ηt (X ) | η k (X ) < η g(X ) (X )} k k − /2) − max{ηt (X ) + /2 | η k (X ) < η g(x) (X )} k

≥ (η

g (X )

= η g(X ) − max{η k (X ) | η k (X ) < η g(X ) (X )} −
k

= m(X ) − >0 Since δ is arbitrary this means that the risk of gt converges in probability to the Bayes risk.

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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d
A A

A A

A A

Figure 8. This Figure shows the setting of Proposition 8. Conditioned on a partially built tree we select an arbitrary leaf at depth d and an arbitrary candidate split in that leaf. The proposition shows that, assuming no other split for A is selected, we can guarantee that the chosen candidate split will occur in bounded time with arbitrarily high probability.

B.6. Proof of Theorem 1 The proof of Theorem 1 is built in several pieces. Proposition 8. Fix a partitioning sequence. Let t0 be a time at which a split occurs in a tree built using this sequence, and let gt0 denote the tree after this split has been made. If A is one of the newly created cells in gt0 then we can guarantee that the cell A is split before time t > t0 with probability at least 1 − δ by making t sufficiently large. Proof. Let d denote the depth of A in the tree gt0 and note that µ(A) > 0 with probability 1 since X has a density. This situation is illustrated in Figure 8. By construction, if the following conditions hold: 1. For some candidate split in A, the number of estimation points in both children is at least α(d), 2. The number of estimation points in A is at least β (d), then the algorithm must split A when the next structure point arrives. Thus in order to force a split we need the following sequence of events to occur: 1. A structure point must arrive in A to create a candidate split point. 2. The above two conditions must be satisfied. 3. Another structure point must arrive in A to force a split. It is possible for a split to be made before these events occur, but assuming a split is not triggered by some other mechanism we can guarantee that this sequence of events will occur in bounded time with high probability. Suppose a split is not triggered by a different mechanism. Define E0 to be an event that occurs at t0 with probability 1, and let E1 ≤ E2 ≤ E3 be the times at which the above numbered events occur. Each of these events requires the previous one to have occurred and moreover, the sequence has a Markov structure, so for t0 ≤ t1 ≤ t2 ≤ t3 = t we have P (E1 ≤ t ∩ E2 ≤ t ∩ E3 ≤ t | E0 = t0 ) ≥ P (E1 ≤ t1 ∩ E2 ≤ t2 ∩ E3 ≤ t3 | E0 = t0 ) = P (E1 ≤ t1 | E0 = t0 ) P (E2 ≤ t2 | E1 ≤ t1 ) P (E3 ≤ t3 | E2 ≤ t2 ) ≥ P (E1 ≤ t1 | E0 = t0 ) P (E2 ≤ t2 | E1 = t1 ) P (E3 ≤ t3 | E2 = t2 ) . We can rewrite the first and last term in more friendly notation as P (E1 ≤ t1 | E0 = t0 ) = P Nts0 ,t1 (A) ≥ 1 P (E3 ≤ t3 | E2 = t2 ) = P Nts2 ,t3 (A) ≥1 , .

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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E0 t0 t1 − t0

E1 t2 − t1

E2 t3 − t2

E3 t

Figure 9. This Figure diagrams the structure of the argument used in Propositions 8 and 9. The indicated intervals are show regions where the next event must occur with high probability. Each of these intervals is finite, so their sum is also finite. We find an interval which contains all of the events with high probability by summing the lengths of the intervals for which we have individual bounds.

Lemma 7 allows us to lower bound both of these probabilities by 1 − for any > 0 by making t1 − t0 and t3 − t2 large enough that Nts0 ,t1 ≥ and Nts2 ,t3 ≥ 2 max 1, µ(A)−1 log µ(A) 1 2 max 1, µ(A)−1 log µ(A) 1

respectively. To bound the centre term, recall that µ(A ) > 0 and µ(A ) > 0 with probability 1, and β (d) ≥ α(d) so P (E2 ≤ t2 | E1 = t1 ) ≥ P Nte1 ,t2 (A ) ≥ β (d) ∩ Nte1 ,t2 (A ) ≥ β (d) ≥ P Nte1 ,t2 (A ) ≥ β (d) + P Nte1 ,t2 (A ) ≥ β (d) − 1 , and we can again use Lemma 7 lower bound this by 1 − by making t2 − t1 sufficiently large that Nte1 ,t2 ≥ 2 max β (d), min{µ(A ), µ(A )}−1 log min{µ(A ), µ(A )} 2

Thus by setting make

= 1 − (1 − δ )1/3 can ensure that the probability of a split before time t is at least 1 − δ if we

t = t0 + (t1 − t0 ) + (t2 − t1 ) + (t3 − t2 ) sufficiently large. Proposition 9. Fix a partitioning sequence. Each cell in a tree built based on this sequence is split infinitely often in probability. i.e for any x in the support of X , P (At (x) has been split fewer than K times) → 0 as t → ∞ for all K . Proof. For an arbitrary point x in the support of X , let Ek denote the time at which the cell containing x is split for the k th time, or infinity if the cell containing x is split fewer than k times (define E0 = 0 with probability 1). Now define the following sequence: t0 = 0 ti = min{t | P (Ei ≤ t | Ei−1 = ti−1 ) ≥ 1 − }

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2033 2034

and set Tδ = tk . Proposition 8 guarantees that each of the above ti ’s exists and is finite. Compute,
k

P (Ek ≤ Tδ ) = P
k

[Ei ≤ Tδ ]
i=1

≥P
k

[Ei ≤ ti ]
i=1

 P Ei ≤ ti |
j<i

 [Ej ≤ tj ]

=
i=1 k

=
i=1 k

P (Ei ≤ ti | Ei−1 ≤ ti−1 ) P (Ei ≤ ti | Ei−1 = ti−1 )
i=1



≥ (1 − )k where the last line follows from the choice of ti ’s. Thus for any δ > 0 we can choose Tδ to guarantee P (Ek ≤ Tδ ) ≥ 1 − δ by setting = 1 − (1 − δ )1/k and applying the above process. We can make this guarantee for any k which allows us to conclude that P (Ek ≤ t) → 1 as t → ∞ for all k as required. Proposition 10. Fix a partitioning sequence. Let At (X ) denote the cell of gt (built based on the partitioning sequence) containing the point X . Then diam(At (X )) → 0 in probability as t → ∞. Proof. Let Vt (x) be the size of the first dimension of At (x). It suffices to show that E [Vt (x)] → 0 for all x in the support of X . Let X1 , . . . , Xm ∼ µ|At (x) for some 1 ≤ m ≤ m denote the samples from the structure stream that are used to determine the candidate splits in the cell At (x). Use πd to denote a projection onto the dth coordinate, and without loss of generality, assume that Vt = 1 and π1 Xi ∼ Uniform[0, 1]. Conditioned on the event that the first dimension is cut, the largest possible size of the first dimension of a child cell is bounded by V ∗ = max(max π1 Xi , 1 − min π1 Xi ) .
i=1 i=1 m m

Recall that we choose the number of candidate dimensions as min(1 + Poisson(λ), D) and select that number of distinct dimensions uniformly at random to be candidates. Define the following events: E1 = {There is exactly one candidate dimension} E2 = {The first dimension is a candidate} Then using V to denote the size of the first dimension of the child cell, E [V ] ≤ E [I {(E1 ∩ E2 )c } + I {E1 ∩ E2 } V ∗ ]
c c = P (E1 ) + P (E2 |E1 ) P (E1 ) + P (E2 |E1 ) P (E1 ) E [V ∗ ] 1 1 = (1 − e−λ ) + (1 − )e−λ + e−λ E [V ∗ ] d d e −λ e−λ =1− + E [V ∗ ] D D m e −λ e−λ m =1− + E max(max π1 Xi , 1 − min π1 Xi ) i=1 i=1 D D

=1−

e −λ e−λ 2m + 1 + · D D 2m + 2 e −λ =1− 2D(m + 1)

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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Iterating this argument we have that after K splits the expected size of the first dimension of the cell containing x is upper bounded by e −λ 1− 2D(m + 1)
K

so it suffices to have K → ∞ in probability, which we know to be the case from Proposition 9. Proposition 11. Fix a partitioning sequence. In any tree built based on this sequence, N e (At (X )) → ∞ in probability. Proof. It suffices to show that N e (At (x)) → ∞ for all x in the support of X . Fix such an x, by Proposition 9 we can make the probability At (x) is split fewer than K times arbitrarily small for any K . Moreover, by construction immediately after the K -th split is made the number of estimation points contributing to the prediction at x is at least α(K ), and this number can only increase. Thus for all K we have that P (N e (At (x)) < α(K )) → 0 as t → ∞ as required. We are now ready to prove our main result. All the work has been done, it is simply a matter of assembling the pieces. Proof (of Theorem 1). Fix a partitioning sequence. Conditioned on this sequence the consistency of each of the class posteriors follows from Theorem 5. The two required conditions where shown to hold in Propositions 10 and 11. Consistency of the multiclass tree classifier then follows by applying Proposition 4. To remove the conditioning on the partitioning sequence, note that Lemma 6 shows that our tree generation mechanism produces a partitioning sequence with probability 1. Apply Proposition 3 to get unconditional consistency of the multiclass tree. Proposition 2 lifts consistency of the trees to consistency of the forest, establishing the desired result. B.7. Extension to a Fixed Size Fringe Proving consistency is preserved with a fixed size fringe requires more precise control over the relationship between the number of estimation points seen in an interval, Nte0 ,t , and the total number of splits which have occurred in the tree, K . The following two lemmas provide the control we need. Lemma 12. Fix a partitioning sequence. If K is the number of splits which have occurred at or before time t then for all M > 0 P (K ≤ M ) → 0 in probability as t → ∞. Proof. Denote the fringe at time t with Ft which has max size |F |, and the set of leafs at time t as Lt with size |Lt |. If |Lt | < |F | then there is no change from the unbounded fringe case, so we assume that |Lt | ≥ |F | so that for all t there are exactly |F | leafs in the fringe. Suppose a leaf A1 ∈ Ft0 for some t0 then for every δ > 0 there is a finite time t1 such that for all t ≥ t1 P (A1 has not been split before time t) ≤ δ |F |

Now fix a time t0 and δ > 0. For each leaf Ai ∈ Ft0 we can choose ti to satisfy the above bound. Set t = maxi ti then the union bound gives P (K ≤ |F | at time t) ≤ δ

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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Iterate this argument M/|F | times with δ = / M/|F | and apply the union bound again to get that for sufficiently large t P (K ≤ M ) ≤ for any > 0.

Lemma 13. Fix a partitioning sequence. If K is the number of splits which have occurred at or before time t then for any t0 > 0, K/Nte0 ,t → 0 as t → ∞.
e e Proof. First note that Nte0 ,t = N0 ,t − N0,t0 −1 so

K K = e e Nte0 ,t N0,t − N0 ,t0 −1
e e and since N0 ,t0 −1 is fixed it is sufficient to show that K/N0,t → 0. In the following we write N = N0,t to lighten the notation.

Define the cost of a tree T as the minimum value of N required to construct a tree with the same shape as T . The cost of the tree is governed by the function α(d) which gives the cost of splitting a leaf at level d. The cost of a tree is found by summing the cost of each split required to build the tree. Note that no tree on K splits is cheaper than a tree of max depth d = log2 (K ) with all levels full (except possibly the last, which may be partially full). This is simple to see, since α(d) is an increasing function of d, meaning it is never more expensive to add a node at a lower level than a higher one. Thus we assume wlog that the tree is full except possibly in the last level. When filling the dth layer of the tree, each split requires at least 2α(d + 1) points because a split creates two new leafs at level d + 1. This means that for K in the range [2d , 2d+1 − 1] (the range of splits which fill up level d), K can increase at a rate which is at most 1/2α(d + 1) with respect to N . This also tells us that filling the dth level of the tree requires that N increase by at least 2d α(d) = 2d−1 · 2α(d) (filling the dth level corresponds to splitting each of the 2d−1 leafs on the d − 1th level at a cost of 2α(d) each). This means that filling d levels of the tree requires at least
d

Nd =
k=1 d

2k α(k )

points. When N = Nd , K is at most 2 − 1 because that is the number of splits in a full binary tree of depth d. The above argument gives a collection of linear upper bounds on K in terms of N . We know that the maximum growth rate is linear between (Nd , 2d − 1) and (Nd+1 , 2d+1 − 1) so for all d we can find that since (2d+1 − 1) − (2d − 1) = (Nd+1 ) − (Nd ) we have that for N and d, K≤ where C (d) is given by C (d) = 2d − 1 − From this we have K 1 1 ≤ + N 2α(d + 1) N 2d − 1 − 1 2
d

2d+1 − 2d
d+1 k=1

2k α (k ) −

d k=1

2k α(k )

=

2d 1 = 2d+1 α(d + 1) 2α(d + 1)

1 N + C (d) 2α(d + 1)
d

1 2

2k
k=1

α (k ) α(d + 1)

2k
k=1

α(k ) α(d + 1)

which holds for all d and N , so if we choose d to make 1/α(d + 1) ≤ δ/2 and then pick N such that C (d)/N ≤ δ/2 we have K/N ≤ δ for arbitrary δ > 0 which proves the claim.

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Consistency of Online Random Forests

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K 23 − 1
1 2α(3) 1 2α(2)

2 −1 C (2) 21 − 1
1 2α(1)

2

0

e N0 ,t

Figure 10. Diagram of the bound in Lemma 13. The horizontal axis is the number of estimation points seen at time t and the vertical axis is the number of splits. The first bend is the earliest point at which the root of the tree could be split, which requires 2α(1) points to create 2 new leafs at level 1. Similarly, the second bend is the point at which all leafs at level 1 have been split, each of which requires at least 2α(2) points to create a pair of leafs at level 2.

In order to show that our algorithm remains consistent with a fixed size fringe we must ensure that Proposition 8 does not fail in this setting. Interpreted in the context of a finite fringe, Proposition 8 says that any cell in the fringe will be split in finite time. This means that to ensure consistency we need only show that any inactive point will be added to the fringe in finite time. Remark 14. If s(A) = 0 for any leaf then we know that e(A) = 0, since µ(A) > 0 by construction. If e(A) = 0 then P (g (X ) = Y | X ∈ A) = 0 which means that any subdivision of A has the same asymptotic probability of error as leaving A in tact. Our rule never splits A and thus fails to satisfy the shrinking leaf condition, but our predictions are asymptotically the same as if we had divided A into arbitrarily many pieces so this doesn’t matter. Proposition 15. Every leaf with s(A) > 0 will be added to the fringe in finite time with high probability. Proof. Pick an arbitrary leaf A. We know from Hoeffding’s inequality that P (ˆ p(A) ≤ µ(A) − ) ≤ exp −2|A| and P (ˆ p(A) ≥ µ(A) + ) ≤ exp −2|A|
2 2

≤ exp −2α(d)

2

≤ exp −2α(d)

2

Now pick an arbitrary time t0 and condition on everything before t0 . For an arbitrary node A ⊂ RD , if A is a child of A then we know that if {Ui }Dm i=1 are iid on [0, 1] then E [µ(A )] ≤ µ(A)E max(max(Ui , 1 − Ui ))
i=1 Dm

= µ(A)

2Dm + 1 2Dm + 2

since there are at most D candidate dimensions and each one accumulates at most m candidate splits. So if AK is any leaf created by K splits of A then E µ(AK ) ≤ µ(A) Notice that since we have conditioned on the tree at t0 so, E p ˆ(AK ) = E E p ˆ(AK ) | µ(AK ) = E µ(AK ) 2Dm + 1 2Dm + 2
K

2365 2366 2367 2368 2369 2370 2371 2372 2373 2374 2375 2376 2377 2378 2379 2380 2381 2382 2383 2384 2385 2386 2387 2388 2389 2390 2391 2392 2393 2394 2395 2396 2397 2398 2399 2400 2401 2402 2403 2404 2405 2406 2407 2408 2409 2410 2411 2412 2413 2414 2415 2416 2417 2418 2419

Consistency of Online Random Forests

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And we can bound p ˆ(AK ) with P p ˆ(AK ) ≥ µ(A) Set (2K +1 |L|)−1 δ = exp −2|AK |
2

2Dm + 1 2Dm + 2

K

+

≤ exp −2|AK |

2

and invert the bound so we have 2Dm + 1 2Dm + 2
K

P p ˆ(AK ) ≥ µ(A)

+

1 log 2|AK |

2K +1 |L| δ



δ 2K +1 |L|

Pick an arbitrary leaf A0 which is in the tree at time t0 . We can use the same approach to find a lower bound on s ˆ(A0 ): P s ˆ(A0 ) ≤ s(A0 ) − 1 log 2|A0 | 2K +1 |L| δ ≤ δ 2K +1 |L|

To ensure that s ˆ(A0 ) ≥ p ˆ(AK ) (≥ s ˆ(AK )) fails to hold with probability at most δ 2−K |L|−1 we must choose k and t to make s(A0 ) ≥ µ(A) 2Dm + 1 2Dm + 2
K

+

1 log 2|AK |

2K +1 |L| δ

+

1 log 2|A0 |

2K +1 |L| δ

The first term goes to 0 as K → ∞. We know that |AK | ≥ α(K ) so the second term also goes to 0 provided that K/α(K ) → 0, which we require. The third term goes to 0 if K/|A0 | → 0. Recall that |A0 | = Nte0 ,t (A0 ) and for any γ > 0 P Nte0 ,t (A) ≤ Nte0 ,t µ(A) − 1 log 2Nte0 ,t 1 γ ≤γ

From this we see it is sufficient to have K/Nte0 ,t → 0 which we established in a lemma. In summary, there are |L| leafs in the tree at time t0 and each of them generates at most 2K different AK ’s. Union bounding over all these leafs and over the probability of Nte0 ,t (A0 ) growing sublinearly in Nte0 ,t we have that, conditioned on the event that A0 has not yet been split, A0 is the leaf with the highest value of s ˆ with probability at least 1 − δ − γ in finite time. Since δ and γ are arbitrary we are done.

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