Affects Version/s: 2.4.5
Fix Version/s: None
The proposal should apply to any Spark version and OS's that are supported by Spark.
Specifically, the observations reported were based on:
- Spark 2.3.1 and 2.4.5
- Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS
- Mac OS 10.13.6
The RandomForest model does not provide proximity measure as described in [Breiman|https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~breiman/RandomForests/cc_home.htm]. There are many important use cases of proximity:
- more accurate replacement for missing data
- identify outliers
- clustering or multi-dimensional scaling
- compute the proximities of test set in the training set
- unsupervised learning
Performance and storage concerns are among reasons that proximities are not computed and kept during prediction, as mentioned in https://dzone.com/articles/classification-using-random-forest-with-spark-20.
RF in Spark is optimized for massive scalability on large-scale dataset where the number of data points, features and trees can be very big. Even with optimized storage, proximity requires O(NxT) memory, and it may still not fit in memory: where N is number of data points and T is number of trees in the forest.
We propose to add a column in the prediction output to return the node-id (or hash) of the terminal node for each sample data point.
The required changes on the current RF implementation will not increase the computation and storage by significant amounts. And it will leave the possibility open for computing some form of proximity after prediction. It us up to the users how to use the extra column of node-ids. Without this, currently there is no work around to compute proximity measure.
In one prototype, we output the terminal node id for each prediction from RandomForestClassificationModel. And then we use Spark’s LSHModel to cluster prediction results by terminal node ids. The performance of the whole pipeline was reasonable for the size of our dataset.
- L. Breiman. Manual on setting up, using, and understanding random forests v3.1, 2002. https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~breiman/RandomForests/cc_home.htm