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Multiclass Probability Estimation with Support Vector Machines

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posted on 2019-03-11, 18:58 authored by Xin Wang, Hao Helen Zhang, Yichao Wu

Multiclass classification and probability estimation have important applications in data analytics. Support vector machines (SVMs) have shown great success in various real-world problems due to their high classification accuracy (Burges, 1998; Cristianini and Shawe-Taylor, 2000; Zhu et al., 2004). However, one main limitation of standard SVMs is that they do not provide class probability estimates, and thus fail to offer uncertainty measure about class prediction. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective framework to endow kernel SVMs with the feature of multiclass probability estimation. The new probability estimator does not rely on any parametric assumption on the data distribution, therefore it is flexible and robust. Theoretically, we show that the proposed estimator is asymptotically consistent. Computationally, the new procedure can be conveniently implemented using standard SVM softwares. Our extensive numerical studies demonstrate competitive performance of the new estimator when compared with existing methods such as multiple logistic regression, linear discrimination analysis (LDA), tree-based methods, and random forest (RF), under various classification settings.

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