Naive Bayes

Naive Bayes (NB) is a classification algorithm that relies on strong assumptions of the independence of covariates in applying Bayes Theorem. NB models are commonly used as an alternative to decision trees for classification problems.

Defining a Naive Bayes Model


The .hex key associated with the data to be modeled.


The dependent variable to be predicted by the model.

Ignored Columns:

The set of features in the training data set to be omitted from model training.


Laplace smoothing is used to circumvent the modeling issues that can arise when conditional probabilities are 0. In particular this can occur when a rare event appears in holdout or prediction data, but did not appear in the training data. Smoothing modifies the maximum likelihood estimates used to generate classification probabilities even when unknown cases are encountered.

Naive Bayes Algorithm and Implementation

The algorithm is presented for the simplified binomial case without loss of generality.

Under the Naive Bayes assumption of independence, given a training set for a set of discrete valued features X \({(X^{(i)},\ y^{(i)};\ i=1,...m)}\)

The joint likelihood of the data can be expressed as:

\(\mathcal{L} \: (\phi(y),\: \phi_{i|y=1},\: \phi_{i|y=0})=\Pi_{i=1}^{m} p(X^{(i)},\: y^{(i)})\)

The model can be parameterized by:

\(\phi_{i|y=0}=\ p(x_{i}=1|\ y=0);\: \phi_{i|y=1}=\ p(x_{i}=1|y=1);\: \phi(y)\)

Where \(\phi_{i|y=0}=\ p(x_{i}=1|\ y=0)\) can be thought of as the fraction of the observed instances where feature \(x_{i}\) is observed, and the outcome is \(y=0\), \(\phi_{i|y=1}=\ p(x_{i}=1|\ y=1)\) is the fraction of the observed instances where feature \(x_{i}\) is observed, and the outcome is \(y=1\), and so on.

The objective of the algorithm is then to maximize with respect to \(\phi_{i|y=0}, \ \phi_{i|y=1},\ and \ \phi(y)\)

Where the maximum likelihood estimates are:

\(\phi_{j|y=1}= \frac{\Sigma_{i}^m 1(x_{j}^{(i)}=1 \ \bigcap y^{i} = 1)}{\Sigma_{i=1}^{m}(y^{(i)}=1}\)

\(\phi_{j|y=0}= \frac{\Sigma_{i}^m 1(x_{j}^{(i)}=1 \ \bigcap y^{i} = 0)}{\Sigma_{i=1}^{m}(y^{(i)}=0}\)

\(\phi(y)= \frac{(y^{i} = 1)}{m}\)

Once all parameters \(\: \phi_{j|y}\) are fit, the model can be used to predict new examples with features \(X_{(i^*)}\).

This is carried out by calculating

\(p(y=1|x)=\frac{\Pi p(x_i|y=1) p(y=1)}{\Pi p(x_i|y=1)p(y=1) \: + \: \Pi p(x_i|y=0)p(y=0)}\)

\(p(y=0|x)=\frac{\Pi p(x_i|y=0) p(y=0)}{\Pi p(x_i|y=1)p(y=1) \: + \: \Pi p(x_i|y=0)p(y=0)}\)

and predicting the class with the highest probability.

It is possible that predictions sets contain features not originally seen in the training set. When this occurs the maximum likelihood estimates for these features will predict a probability of 0 for all cases of y.

Laplace smoothing allows a model to predict on out of training data features by adjusting the maximum likelihood estimates to be:

\(\phi_{j|y=1}= \frac{\Sigma_{i}^m 1(x_{j}^{(i)}=1 \ \bigcap y^{i} = 1) \: + \: 1}{\Sigma_{i=1}^{m}(y^{(i)}=1 \: + \: 2}\)

\(\phi_{j|y=0}= \frac{\Sigma_{i}^m 1(x_{j}^{(i)}=1 \ \bigcap y^{i} = 0) \: + \: 1}{\Sigma_{i=1}^{m}(y^{(i)}=0 \: + \: 2}\)

Note that in the general case where y takes on k values, there are k+1 modified parameter estimates, and the added in the denominator is k (rather than 2, as shown in the 2 level classifier shown here.)

Laplace smoothing should be used with care; it is generally intended to allow for predictions in rare events. As prediction data becomes increasingly distinct from training data, new models should be trained when possible to account for the broader set of possible X values.