Feature Selection and Classification Using Age Layered Population Structure Genetic Programming
The curse of dimensionality is a major problem in the fields of machine learning, data mining and knowledge discovery. Exhaustive search for the most optimal subset of relevant features from a high dimensional dataset is NP hard. Sub–optimal population based stochastic algorithms such as GP and GA are good choices for searching through large search spaces, and are usually more feasible than exhaustive and determinis- tic search algorithms. On the other hand, population based stochastic algorithms often suffer from premature convergence on mediocre sub–optimal solutions. The Age Layered Population Structure (ALPS) is a novel meta–heuristic for overcoming the problem of premature convergence in evolutionary algorithms, and for improving search in the fitness landscape. The ALPS paradigm uses an age–measure to control breeding and competition between individuals in the population. This thesis uses a modification of the ALPS GP strategy called Feature Selection ALPS (FSALPS) for feature subset selection and classification of varied supervised learning tasks. FSALPS uses a novel frequency count system to rank features in the GP population based on evolved feature frequencies. The ranked features are translated into probabilities, which are used to control evolutionary processes such as terminal–symbol selection for the construction of GP trees/sub-trees. The FSALPS meta–heuristic continuously refines the feature subset selection process whiles simultaneously evolving efficient classifiers through a non–converging evolutionary process that favors selection of features with high discrimination of class labels. We investigated and compared the performance of canonical GP, ALPS and FSALPS on high–dimensional benchmark classification datasets, including a hyperspectral image. Using Tukey’s HSD ANOVA test at a 95% confidence interval, ALPS and FSALPS dominated canonical GP in evolving smaller but efficient trees with less bloat expressions. FSALPS significantly outperformed canonical GP and ALPS and some reported feature selection strategies in related literature on dimensionality reduction.