Ant colony optimization algorithm for interpretable Bayesian classifiers combination: Application to medical predictions

Salah Bouktif, Eileen Marie Hanna, Nazar Zaki, Eman Abu Khousa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Prediction and classification techniques have been well studied by machine learning researchers and developed for several real-word problems. However, the level of acceptance and success of prediction models are still below expectation due to some difficulties such as the low performance of prediction models when they are applied in different environments. Such a problem has been addressed by many researchers, mainly from the machine learning community. A second problem, principally raised by model users in different communities, such as managers, economists, engineers, biologists, and medical practitioners, etc., is the prediction models' interpretability. The latter is the ability of a model to explain its predictions and exhibit the causality relationships between the inputs and the outputs. In the case of classification, a successful way to alleviate the low performance is to use ensemble classiers. It is an intuitive strategy to activate collaboration between different classifiers towards a better performance than individual classier. Unfortunately, ensemble classifiers method do not take into account the interpretability of the final classification outcome. It even worsens the original interpretability of the individual classifiers. In this paper we propose a novel implementation of classifiers combination approach that does not only promote the overall performance but also preserves the interpretability of the resulting model. We propose a solution based on Ant Colony Optimization and tailored for the case of Bayesian classifiers. We validate our proposed solution with case studies from medical domain namely, heart disease and Cardiotography-based predictions, problems where interpretability is critical to make appropriate clinical decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86456
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 3 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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