GRANDE: Gradient-Based Decision Tree Ensembles for Tabular Data

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 21 Apr 2024ICLR 2024 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
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Keywords: Tabular Data; Architectures; Ensembles; Decision Trees; Gradient Descent
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TL;DR: A novel ensemble method for hard, axis-aligned decision trees learned end-to-end with gradient descent
Abstract: Despite the success of deep learning for text and image data, tree-based ensemble models are still state-of-the-art for machine learning with heterogeneous tabular data. However, there is a significant need for tabular-specific gradient-based methods due to their high flexibility. In this paper, we propose $\text{GRANDE}$, $\text{GRA}$die$\text{N}$t-Based $\text{D}$ecision Tree $\text{E}$nsembles, a novel approach for learning hard, axis-aligned decision tree ensembles using end-to-end gradient descent. GRANDE is based on a dense representation of tree ensembles, which affords to use backpropagation with a straight-through operator to jointly optimize all model parameters. Our method combines axis-aligned splits, which is a useful inductive bias for tabular data, with the flexibility of gradient-based optimization. Furthermore, we introduce an advanced instance-wise weighting that facilitates learning representations for both, simple and complex relations, within a single model. We conducted an extensive evaluation on a predefined benchmark with 19 classification datasets and demonstrate that our method outperforms existing gradient-boosting and deep learning frameworks on most datasets. The method is available under:
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Primary Area: general machine learning (i.e., none of the above)
Submission Number: 258