Algorithms are the essence of data mining and machine learning – the two processes 60% of organizations utilize to streamline their operations. Businesses can choose from several algorithms to polish their workflows, but the decision tree algorithm might be the most common.

This algorithm is all about simplicity. It branches out in multiple directions, just like trees, and determines whether something is true or false. In turn, data scientists and machine learning professionals can further dissect the data and help key stakeholders answer various questions.

This only scratches the surface of this algorithm – but it’s time to delve deeper into the concept. Let’s take a closer look at the decision tree machine learning algorithm, its components, types, and applications.

What Is Decision Tree Machine Learning?

The decision tree algorithm in data mining and machine learning may sound relatively simple due to its similarities with standard trees. But like with conventional trees, which consist of leaves, branches, roots, and many other elements, there’s a lot to uncover with this algorithm. We’ll start by defining this concept and listing the main components.

Definition of Decision Tree

If you’re a college student, you learn in two ways – supervised and unsupervised. The same division can be found in algorithms, and the decision tree belongs to the former category. It’s a supervised algorithm you can use to regress or classify data. It relies on training data to predict values or outcomes.

Components of Decision Tree

What’s the first thing you notice when you look at a tree? If you’re like most people, it’s probably the leaves and branches.

The decision tree algorithm has the same elements. Add nodes to the equation, and you have the entire structure of this algorithm right in front of you.

  • Nodes – There are several types of nodes in decision trees. The root node is the parent of all nodes, which represents the overriding message. Chance nodes tell you the probability of a certain outcome, whereas decision nodes determine the decisions you should make.
  • Branches – Branches connect nodes. Like rivers flowing between two cities, they show your data flow from questions to answers.
  • Leaves – Leaves are also known as end nodes. These elements indicate the outcome of your algorithm. No more nodes can spring out of these nodes. They are the cornerstone of effective decision-making.

Types of Decision Trees

When you go to a park, you may notice various tree species: birch, pine, oak, and acacia. By the same token, there are multiple types of decision tree algorithms:

  • Classification Trees – These decision trees map observations about particular data by classifying them into smaller groups. The chunks allow machine learning specialists to predict certain values.
  • Regression Trees – According to IBM, regression decision trees can help anticipate events by looking at input variables.

Decision Tree Algorithm in Data Mining

Knowing the definition, types, and components of decision trees is useful, but it doesn’t give you a complete picture of this concept. So, buckle your seatbelt and get ready for an in-depth overview of this algorithm.

Overview of Decision Tree Algorithms

Just as there are hierarchies in your family or business, there are hierarchies in any decision tree in data mining. Top-down arrangements start with a problem you need to solve and break it down into smaller chunks until you reach a solution. Bottom-up alternatives sort of wing it – they enable data to flow with some supervision and guide the user to results.

Popular Decision Tree Algorithms

  • ID3 (Iterative Dichotomiser 3) – Developed by Ross Quinlan, the ID3 is a versatile algorithm that can solve a multitude of issues. It’s a greedy algorithm (yes, it’s OK to be greedy sometimes), meaning it selects attributes that maximize information output.
  • 5 – This is another algorithm created by Ross Quinlan. It generates outcomes according to previously provided data samples. The best thing about this algorithm is that it works great with incomplete information.
  • CART (Classification and Regression Trees) – This algorithm drills down on predictions. It describes how you can predict target values based on other, related information.
  • CHAID (Chi-squared Automatic Interaction Detection) – If you want to check out how your variables interact with one another, you can use this algorithm. CHAID determines how variables mingle and explain particular outcomes.

Key Concepts in Decision Tree Algorithms

No discussion about decision tree algorithms is complete without looking at the most significant concept from this area:

Entropy

As previously mentioned, decision trees are like trees in many ways. Conventional trees branch out in random directions. Decision trees share this randomness, which is where entropy comes in.

Entropy tells you the degree of randomness (or surprise) of the information in your decision tree.

Information Gain

A decision tree isn’t the same before and after splitting a root node into other nodes. You can use information gain to determine how much it’s changed. This metric indicates how much your data has improved since your last split. It tells you what to do next to make better decisions.

Gini Index

Mistakes can happen, even in the most carefully designed decision tree algorithms. However, you might be able to prevent errors if you calculate their probability.

Enter the Gini index (Gini impurity). It establishes the likelihood of misclassifying an instance when choosing it randomly.

Pruning

You don’t need every branch on your apple or pear tree to get a great yield. Likewise, not all data is necessary for a decision tree algorithm. Pruning is a compression technique that allows you to get rid of this redundant information that keeps you from classifying useful data.

Building a Decision Tree in Data Mining

Growing a tree is straightforward – you plant a seed and water it until it is fully formed. Creating a decision tree is simpler than some other algorithms, but quite a few steps are involved nevertheless.

Data Preparation

Data preparation might be the most important step in creating a decision tree. It’s comprised of three critical operations:

Data Cleaning

Data cleaning is the process of removing unwanted or unnecessary information from your decision trees. It’s similar to pruning, but unlike pruning, it’s essential to the performance of your algorithm. It’s also comprised of several steps, such as normalization, standardization, and imputation.

Feature Selection

Time is money, which especially applies to decision trees. That’s why you need to incorporate feature selection into your building process. It boils down to choosing only those features that are relevant to your data set, depending on the original issue.

Data Splitting

The procedure of splitting your tree nodes into sub-nodes is known as data splitting. Once you split data, you get two data points. One evaluates your information, while the other trains it, which brings us to the next step.

Training the Decision Tree

Now it’s time to train your decision tree. In other words, you need to teach your model how to make predictions by selecting an algorithm, setting parameters, and fitting your model.

Selecting the Best Algorithm

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when designing decision trees. Users select an algorithm that works best for their application. For example, the Random Forest algorithm is the go-to choice for many companies because it can combine multiple decision trees.

Setting Parameters

How far your tree goes is just one of the parameters you need to set. You also need to choose between entropy and Gini values, set the number of samples when splitting nodes, establish your randomness, and adjust many other aspects.

Fitting the Model

If you’ve fitted your model properly, your data will be more accurate. The outcomes need to match the labeled data closely (but not too close to avoid overfitting) if you want relevant insights to improve your decision-making.

Evaluating the Decision Tree

Don’t put your feet up just yet. Your decision tree might be up and running, but how well does it perform? There are two ways to answer this question: cross-validation and performance metrics.

Cross-Validation

Cross-validation is one of the most common ways of gauging the efficacy of your decision trees. It compares your model to training data, allowing you to determine how well your system generalizes.

Performance Metrics

Several metrics can be used to assess the performance of your decision trees:

Accuracy

This is the proximity of your measurements to the requested values. If your model is accurate, it matches the values established in the training data.

Precision

By contrast, precision tells you how close your output values are to each other. In other words, it shows you how harmonized individual values are.

Recall

Recall is the number of data samples in the desired class. This class is also known as the positive class. Naturally, you want your recall to be as high as possible.

F1 Score

F1 score is the median value of your precision and recall. Most professionals consider an F1 of over 0.9 a very good score. Scores between 0.8 and 0.5 are OK, but anything less than 0.5 is bad. If you get a poor score, it means your data sets are imprecise and imbalanced.

Visualizing the Decision Tree

The final step is to visualize your decision tree. In this stage, you shed light on your findings and make them digestible for non-technical team members using charts or other common methods.

Applications of Decision Tree Machine Learning in Data Mining

The interest in machine learning is on the rise. One of the reasons is that you can apply decision trees in virtually any field:

  • Customer Segmentation – Decision trees let you divide customers according to age, gender, or other factors.
  • Fraud Detection – Decision trees can easily find fraudulent transactions.
  • Medical Diagnosis – This algorithm allows you to classify conditions and other medical data with ease using decision trees.
  • Risk Assessment – You can use the system to figure out how much money you stand to lose if you pursue a certain path.
  • Recommender Systems – Decision trees help customers find their next product through classification.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Decision Tree Machine Learning

Advantages:

  • Easy to Understand and Interpret – Decision trees make decisions almost in the same manner as humans.
  • Handles Both Numerical and Categorical Data – The ability to handle different types of data makes them highly versatile.
  • Requires Minimal Data Preprocessing – Preparing data for your algorithms doesn’t take much.

Disadvantages:

  • Prone to Overfitting – Decision trees often fail to generalize.
  • Sensitive to Small Changes in Data – Changing one data point can wreak havoc on the rest of the algorithm.
  • May Not Work Well with Large Datasets – Naïve Bayes and some other algorithms outperform decision trees when it comes to large datasets.

Possibilities are Endless With Decision Trees

The decision tree machine learning algorithm is a simple yet powerful algorithm for classifying or regressing data. The convenient structure is perfect for decision-making, as it organizes information in an accessible format. As such, it’s ideal for making data-driven decisions.

If you want to learn more about this fascinating topic, don’t stop your exploration here. Decision tree courses and other resources can bring you one step closer to applying decision trees to your work.

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Il Sole 24 Ore: 100 thousand IT professionals missing
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OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 14, 2024 6 min read

Written on April 24th 2024

Source here: Il Sole 24 Ore (full article in Italian)


Open Institute of Technology: 100 thousand IT professionals missing

Eurostat data processed and disseminated by OPIT. Stem disciplines: the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%

Today, only 29% of young Italians between 25 and 34 have a degree. Not only that: compared to other European countries, the comparison is unequal given that the average in the Old Continent is 46%, bringing Italy to the penultimate place in this ranking, ahead only of Romania. The gap is evident even if the comparison is limited to STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) where the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%, with peaks of virtuosity which in the case of France that reaches 29.2%. Added to this is the continuing problem of the mismatch between job supply and demand, so much so that 62.8% of companies struggle to find professionals in the technological and IT fields.

The data

The Eurostat data was processed and disseminated by OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. an academic institution accredited at European level, active in the university level education market with online Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the technological and digital fields. We are therefore witnessing a phenomenon with worrying implications on the future of the job market in Italy and on the potential loss of competitiveness of our companies at a global level, especially if inserted in a context in which the macroeconomic scenario in the coming years will undergo a profound discontinuity linked to the arrival of “exponential” technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, but also to the growing threats related to cybersecurity.

Requirements and updates

According to European House Ambrosetti, over 2,000,000 professionals will have to update their skills in the Digital and IT area by 2026, also to take advantage of the current 100,000 vacant IT positions, as estimated by Frank Recruitment Group. But not only that: the Italian context, which is unfavorable for providing the job market with graduates and skills, also has its roots in the chronic birth rate that characterizes our country: according to ISTAT data, in recent years the number of newborns has fallen by 28%, bringing Italy’s birth rate to 1.24, among the lowest in Europe, where the average is 1.46.

Profumo: “Structural deficiency”

“The chronic problem of the absence of IT professionals is structural and of a dual nature: on one hand the number of newborns – therefore, potential “professionals of the future” – is constantly decreasing; on the other hand, the percentage of young people who acquires degrees are firmly among the lowest in Europe”, declared Francesco Profumo, former Minister of Education and rector of OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. “The reasons are varied: from the cost of education (especially if undertaken off-site), to a university offering that is poorly aligned with changes in society, to a lack of awareness and orientation towards STEM subjects, which guarantee the highest employment rates. Change necessarily involves strong investments in the university system (and, in general, in the education system) at the level of the country, starting from the awareness that a functioning education system is the main driver of growth and development in the medium to long term. It is a debated and discussed topic on which, however, a clear and ambitious position is never taken.”

Stagnant context and educational offer

In this stagnant context, the educational offer that comes from online universities increasingly meets the needs of flexibility, quality and cost of recently graduated students, university students looking for specialization and workers interested in updating themselves with innovative skills. According to data from the Ministry of University and Research, enrollments in accredited online universities in Italy have grown by over 141 thousand units in ten years (since 2011), equal to 293.9%. Added to these are the academic institutions accredited at European level, such as OPIT, whose educational offering is overall capable of opening the doors to hundreds of thousands of students, with affordable costs and extremely innovative and updated degree paths.

Analyzing the figures

An analysis of Eurostat statistics relating to the year 2021 highlights that 27% of Europeans aged between 16 and 74 have attended an entirely digital course. The highest share is recorded in Ireland (46%), Finland and Sweden (45%) and the Netherlands (44%). The lowest in Romania (10%), Bulgaria (12%) and Croatia (18%). Italy is at 20%. “With OPIT” – adds Riccardo Ocleppo, founder and director – “we have created a new model of online academic institution, oriented towards new technologies, with innovative programs, a strong practical focus, and an international approach, with professors and students from 38 countries around the world, and teaching in English. We intend to train Italian students not only on current and updated skills, but to prepare them for an increasingly dynamic and global job market. Our young people must be able to face the challenges of the future like those who study at Stanford or Oxford: with solid skills, but also with relational and attitudinal skills that lead them to create global companies and startups or work in multinationals like their international colleagues. The increasing online teaching offer, if well structured and with quality, represents an incredible form of democratization of education, making it accessible at low costs and with methods that adapt to the flexibility needs of many working students.”

Point of reference

With two degrees already starting in September 2023 – a three-year degree (BSc) in Modern Computer Science and a specialization (MSc) in Applied Data Science & AI – and 4 starting in September 2024: a three-year degree (BSc) in Digital Business, and the specializations (MSc) in Enterprise Cybersecurity, Applied Digital Business and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI), OPIT is an academic institution of reference for those who intend to respond to the demands of a job market increasingly oriented towards the field of artificial intelligence. Added to this are a high-profile international teaching staff and an exclusively online educational offer focused on the technological and digital fields.

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Times of India: The 600,000 IT job shortage in India and how to solve it
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 2, 2024 3 min read

Written on April 25th 2024

Source here: Times of India 


The job market has never been a straightforward path. Ask anyone who has ever looked for a job, certainly within the last decade, and they can tell you as much. But with the rapid development of AI and machine learning, concerns are growing for people about their career options, with a report from Randstad finding that 7 in 10 people in India are concerned about their job being eliminated by AI.

 Employers have their own share of concerns. According to The World Economic Forum, 97 million new AI-related jobs will be created by 2025 and the share of jobs requiring AI skills will increase by 58%. The IT industry in India is experiencing a tremendous surge in demand for skilled professionals on disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cybersecurity and, according to Nasscom, this is leading to a shortage of 600,000 profiles.

 So how do we fill those gaps? Can we democratize access to top-tier higher education in technology?

These are the questions that Riccardo Ocleppo, the engineer who founded a hugely successful ed-tech platform connecting international students with global Universities, Docsity, asked himself for years. Until he took action and launched the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), together with the Former Minister of Education of Italy, Prof. Francesco Profumo, to help people take control of their future careers.

OPIT offers BSc and MSc degrees in Computer Science, AI, Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Digital Business, attracting students from over 38 countries worldwide. Through innovative learning experiences and affordable tuition fees starting at €4,050 per year, OPIT empowers students to pursue their educational goals without the financial and personal burden of relocating.

The curriculum, delivered through a mix of live and pre-recorded lectures, equips students with the latest technology skills, as well as business and strategic acumen necessary for careers in their chosen fields. Moreover, OPIT’s EU-accredited degrees enable graduates to pursue employment opportunities in Europe, with recognition by WES facilitating transferability to the US and Canada.

OPIT’s commitment to student success extends beyond academics, with a full-fledged career services department led by Mike McCulloch. Remote students benefit from OPIT’s “digital campus,” fostering connections through vibrant discussion forums, online events, and networking opportunities with leading experts and professors.

Faculty at OPIT, hailing from prestigious institutions and industry giants like Amazon and Microsoft, bring a wealth of academic and practical experience to the table. With a hands-on, practical teaching approach, OPIT prepares students for the dynamic challenges of the modern job market.

In conclusion, OPIT stands as a beacon of hope for individuals seeking to future-proof their careers in technology. By democratizing access to high-quality education and fostering a global learning community, OPIT empowers students to seize control of their futures and thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

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