Soft Computing

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 811–822 | Cite as

Feature selection for high-dimensional classification using a competitive swarm optimizer

  • Shenkai Gu
  • Ran Cheng
  • Yaochu JinEmail author
Methodologies and Application


When solving many machine learning problems such as classification, there exists a large number of input features. However, not all features are relevant for solving the problem, and sometimes, including irrelevant features may deteriorate the learning performance.Please check the edit made in the article title Therefore, it is essential to select the most relevant features, which is known as feature selection. Many feature selection algorithms have been developed, including evolutionary algorithms or particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithms, to find a subset of the most important features for accomplishing a particular machine learning task. However, the traditional PSO does not perform well for large-scale optimization problems, which degrades the effectiveness of PSO for feature selection when the number of features dramatically increases. In this paper, we propose to use a very recent PSO variant, known as competitive swarm optimizer (CSO) that was dedicated to large-scale optimization, for solving high-dimensional feature selection problems. In addition, the CSO, which was originally developed for continuous optimization, is adapted to perform feature selection that can be considered as a combinatorial optimization problem. An archive technique is also introduced to reduce computational cost. Experiments on six benchmark datasets demonstrate that compared to the canonical PSO-based and a state-of-the-art PSO variant for feature selection, the proposed CSO-based feature selection algorithm not only selects a much smaller number of features, but result in better classification performance as well.


Feature selection High dimensionality Large-scale optimization Classification Competitive swarm optimization 



This work was supported in part by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71533001), the Joint Research Fund for Overseas Chinese, Hong Kong and Macao Scholars of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 61428302), and an EPSRC Grant (No. EP/M017869/1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

S. Gu declares that he has no conflict of interest. R. Cheng declares that he has no conflict of interest. Y. Jin declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  2. 2.School of Management Science and EngineeringDalian University of TechnologyDalianChina

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