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Flexible, Non-parametric Modeling Using Regularized Neural Networks

12/18/2020
by   Oskar Allerbo, et al.
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Non-parametric regression, such as generalized additive models (GAMs), is able to capture complex data dependencies in a flexible, yet interpretable way. However, choosing the format of the additive components often requires non-trivial data exploration. Here, we propose an alternative to GAMs, PrAda-net, which uses a one hidden layer neural network, trained with proximal gradient descent and adaptive lasso. PrAda-net automatically adjusts the size and architecture of the neural network to capture the complexity and structure of the underlying data generative model. The compact network obtained by PrAda-net can be translated to additive model components, making it suitable for non-parametric statistical modelling with automatic model selection. We demonstrate PrAda-net on simulated data, where we compare the test error performance, variable importance and variable subset identification properties of PrAda-net to other lasso-based approaches. We also apply Prada-net to the massive U.K. black smoke data set, to demonstrate the capability of using Prada-net as an alternative to GAMs. In contrast to GAMs, which often require domain knowledge to select the functional forms of the additive components, Prada-net requires no such pre-selection while still resulting in interpretable additive components.

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