Online transfer learning with multiple decision trees

  • Yimin WenEmail author
  • Yixiu Qin
  • Keke Qin
  • Xiaoxia Lu
  • Pingshan Liu
Original Article


Online learning techniques have been widely used in many fields where instances come one by one. However, in early stage of a data stream, online learning models cannot exhibit good classification accuracy for it cannot collect sufficient instances to learn. For example, a well-known online learning algorithm named as very fast decision tree (VFDT) needs to wait for Hoeffding bound satisfied to split, which leads to poor classification accuracy at the beginning of data stream. Thus, VFDT may not be appropriate for some real applications which demand us a fast and accurate online detection. This situation will become more serious in the scenario of data stream classification with concept drift. This paper attempts to take transfer learning algorithm to make up this shortcoming of VFDT. To achieve this goal, a new decision tree method named as VFDT-D is first proposed to cache instances in its leaf nodes to handle numerical attributes and adapt to a framework of online transfer learning (OTL), and then a measure which considers tree path, classification accuracy and classification confidence is proposed to evaluate the local similarity between source and target domain classifiers. At last, a multiple-source online transfer learning algorithm named as DMOTL is proposed to take VFDT-D as base classifier and use the proposed measure of local similarity to select the optimal source domain classifier to help transfer learning. The extensive experiments on several synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the advantage of the proposed algorithm.


Online learning Transfer learning Multiple sources Local similarity Incremental decision tree Concept drift 



This work was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (61866007, 61762029, 61662014, 61763007), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangxi District (2018GXNSFDA138006), Guangxi Key Laboratory of Trusted Software (KX201721), Collaborative innovation center of cloud computing and big data (YD16E12), Image intelligent processing project of Key Laboratory Fund (GIIP201505).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangxi Key Laboratory of Trusted SoftwareGuilin University of Electronic TechnologyGuilinChina
  2. 2.Guangxi Key Laboratory of Image and Graphic Intelligent ProcessingGuilin University of Electronic TechnologyGuilinChina
  3. 3.School of Computer Science and Information SafetyGuilin University of Electronic TechnologyGuilinChina
  4. 4.Information Engineering CollegeGuangzhou Huaxia Vocational CollegeGuangzhouChina

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