Combining several ANNs into ensembles normally results in a very accurate and robust predictive models. Many ANN ensemble techniques are, however, quite complicated and often explicitly optimize some diversity metric. Unfortunately, the lack of solid validation of the explicit algorithms, at least for classification, makes the use of diversity measures as part of an optimization function questionable. The merits of implicit methods, most notably bagging, are on the other hand experimentally established and well-known. This paper evaluates a number of straightforward techniques for introducing implicit diversity in ANN ensembles, including a novel technique producing diversity by using ANNs with different and slightly randomized link structures. The experimental results, comparing altogether 54 setups and two different ensemble sizes on 30 UCI data sets, show that all methods succeeded in producing implicit diversity, but that the effect on ensemble accuracy varied. Still, most setups evaluated did result in more accurate ensembles, compared to the baseline setup, especially for the larger ensemble size. As a matter of fact, several setups even obtained significantly higher ensemble accuracy than bagging. The analysis also identified that diversity was, relatively speaking, more important for the larger ensembles. Looking specifically at the methods used to increase the implicit diversity, setups using the technique that utilizes the randomized link structures generally produced the most accurate ensembles.
2012. 1-8 p.
The 2012 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN), Brisbane, QLD, 10-15 June 2012