What is cross-validation? How to do it right?

Data Science Interview QuestionsCategory: Data ScienceWhat is cross-validation? How to do it right?
1 Answers
MockInterview Staff answered 7 years ago

It’s a model validation technique for assessing how the results of a statistical analysis will generalize to an independent data set. Mainly used in settings where the goal is prediction and one wants to estimate how accurately a model will perform in practice. The goal of cross-validation is to define a data set to test the model in the training phase (i.e. validation data set) in order to limit problems like overfitting, and get an insight on how the model will generalize to an independent data set.
Examples: leave-one-out cross validation, K-fold cross validation
How to do it right?

  • the training and validation data sets have to be drawn from the same population
  • predicting stock prices: trained for a certain 5-year period, it’s unrealistic to treat the subsequent 5-year a draw from the same population
  • common mistake: for instance the step of choosing the kernel parameters of a SVM should be cross-validated as well

Bias-variance trade-off for k-fold cross validation:
Leave-one-out cross-validation: gives approximately unbiased estimates of the test error since each training set contains almost the entire data set (n1n−1 observations).
But: we average the outputs of n fitted models, each of which is trained on an almost identical set of observations hence the outputs are highly correlated. Since the variance of a mean of quantities increases when correlation of these quantities increase, the test error estimate from a LOOCV has higher variance than the one obtained with k-fold cross validation
Typically, we choose k=5k=5 or k=10k=10, as these values have been shown empirically to yield test error estimates that suffer neither from excessively high bias nor high variance.

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