[R] SVM probability output variation

Steve Lianoglou mailinglist.honeypot at gmail.com
Wed Oct 21 18:39:49 CEST 2009

Hi Anders,

On Oct 21, 2009, at 8:49 AM, Anders Carlsson wrote:

> Dear R:ers,
> I'm using the svm from the e1071 package to train a model with the  
> option "probabilities = TRUE". I then use "predict" with  
> "probabilities = TRUE" and get the probabilities for the data point  
> belonging to either class. So far all is well.
> My question is why I get different results each time I train the  
> model, although I use exactly the same data. The prediction seems to  
> be reproducible, but if I re-train the model, the probabilities vary  
> some what.
> Here, I have trained a model on exactly the same data five times.  
> When predicting using the different models, this is how the  
> probabilities vary:

I'm not sure I'm following the example your giving and the scenario  
you are describing.

> probabilities
> Grp.0        Grp.1
> 0.7077155    0.2922845
> 0.7938782    0.2061218
> 0.8178833    0.1821167
> 0.7122203    0.2877797

This seems fine to me: it looks like the probabilities of class  
membership for 4 examples (Note that Grp.0 + Grp.1 = 1).

> How can the predictions using the same training and test data vary  
> so much?

I'm trying the code below several times (taken from the example), and  
the probabilities calculated from the call to prediction don't change  
much at all:

R> data(iris)
R> attach(iris)

R> model <- svm(x, y, probability=TRUE)
R> predict(model, x, probability=TRUE)

To be fair, the probabilities aren't exactly the same, but the  
difference between two runs is really small:

R> model <- svm(x, y, probability=TRUE)
R> a <- predict(model, x, probability=TRUE)

R> model <- svm(x, y, probability=TRUE)
R> b <- predict(model, x, probability=TRUE)

R> mean(abs(attr(a, 'probabilities') - attr(b, 'probabilities')))
[1] 0.003215959

Is this what you were talking about, or ... ?


Steve Lianoglou
Graduate Student: Computational Systems Biology
   |  Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
   |  Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Contact Info: http://cbio.mskcc.org/~lianos/contact

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