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Task: Binary classification

Example problem:

Let's say we have two feature columns A and B. A has no nulls and is a binary column if a user completed an action (=1), 0 if they didn't. For all users that completed the action, B is the resultant score. As a result, B has nulls for those that didn't complete the action (missing not at random as the nulls are dependent in B are due to A).

To deal with this missing not at random problem, is it possible to create a new variable that is equal to 1 if the user completes the action and achieves a certain score, 0 otherwise?

The column B is valuable but I'm trying to find a good way of dealing with the nulls.

A B
1 94
0
0
1 45
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  • $\begingroup$ you can use a plausible placeholder value for the nulls (eg inf) or take into account the A column accordingly when using the B column $\endgroup$
    – Nikos M.
    Jan 31, 2021 at 8:38

2 Answers 2

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Creating a new variable as you described would be redundant as it is a function of the other two variables. In other words it is not adding any information.

The below suggestion assumes the model cannot deal with missing values, but a lot of the best models (ex. xgboost is typically one of the best for classification) will deal with this in a smart way for you.

Just fill the missing values via imputation, ex. by using the mean score or training a model using all the other features to predict the scores, and then predicting the missing ones. The model will be able to take into account that some users didn't complete the action, so it won't just treat them as if they got the imputed score, since their value in column A is 0 and that is useful information.

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You don't need a new feature, you can actually reduce the existing 2 features to 1.

To handle these features you can imputing the missing values in B with 0 and remove column A. Here's why:

You have the following data

enter image description here

Following is the info derived for each person

  1. Has the person performed the action? (1 if Yes, 0 if No)
  2. What is the person's score?

Now if we impute Score with 0 when Action performed is 0 and remove the column we get:

enter image description here

Which gives us the same info as before: 0 if the person has performed no action and the person's score otherwise. Essentially, no information is lost. And you don't have null values in your feature anymore.

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