I am really worried How does RandomForest Algorithm Works internally,

  1. Out of bag error
  2. Variable Importance
  3. Z Scores

Let me know all these three ? How to calculate it? What it controls?


1 Answer 1


Please allow me to cite the site of creators of the RandomForest algorithm

Out of bag error

In random forests, there is no need for cross-validation or a separate test set to get an unbiased estimate of the test set error. It is estimated internally, during the run, as follows:

Each tree is constructed using a different bootstrap sample from the original data. About one-third of the cases are left out of the bootstrap sample and not used in the construction of the kth tree.

Put each case left out in the construction of the kth tree down the kth tree to get a classification. In this way, a test set classification is obtained for each case in about one-third of the trees. At the end of the run, take j to be the class that got most of the votes every time case n was oob. The proportion of times that j is not equal to the true class of n averaged over all cases is the oob error estimate. This has proven to be unbiased in many tests.

Variable importance and Z-score

In every tree grown in the forest, put down the oob cases and count the number of votes cast for the correct class. Now randomly permute the values of variable m in the oob cases and put these cases down the tree. Subtract the number of votes for the correct class in the variable-m-permuted oob data from the number of votes for the correct class in the untouched oob data. The average of this number over all trees in the forest is the raw importance score for variable m.

If the values of this score from tree to tree are independent, then the standard error can be computed by a standard computation. The correlations of these scores between trees have been computed for a number of data sets and proved to be quite low, therefore we compute standard errors in the classical way, divide the raw score by its standard error to get a z-score, ands assign a significance level to the z-score assuming normality.


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