Overfitting in Machine Learning

What is Overfitting?

Overfitting occurs when a machine learning model learns to perform well on the training data but does not generalize well to new, unseen data. This situation arises when the model is too complex and captures noise in the training data rather than the underlying patterns. As a result, the model has low bias but high variance, leading to poor performance on unseen data.

How to Prevent Overfitting?

There are several techniques to prevent overfitting in machine learning models:

  1. Cross-validation: Cross-validation involves splitting the dataset into multiple smaller subsets and training the model on these subsets. This helps to estimate the model’s performance on unseen data and allows for better model selection.

  2. Regularization: Regularization techniques, such as L1 and L2 regularization, add a penalty term to the model’s loss function, encouraging the model to learn simpler patterns and reduce complexity.

  3. Pruning: Pruning is a technique used in decision tree algorithms to remove branches that contribute little to the model’s performance, reducing complexity and preventing overfitting.

  4. Early stopping: In iterative learning algorithms like neural networks, early stopping involves monitoring the model’s performance on a validation set and stopping training when the performance starts to degrade, preventing overfitting.

  5. Feature selection: Reducing the number of input features used in the model can help simplify the model and reduce overfitting. Feature selection techniques include filter methods, wrapper methods, and embedded methods.

  6. Ensemble methods: Ensemble methods, such as bagging and boosting, combine multiple models to create a more robust model with better generalization capabilities.

  7. Increasing the training data: Providing more training data can improve the model’s ability to generalize to new data, reducing the chances of overfitting.

Additional Resources for Learning About Overfitting