Applied Intelligence

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1148–1160 | Cite as

ETARM: an efficient top-k association rule mining algorithm

  • Linh T. T. Nguyen
  • Bay Vo
  • Loan T. T. Nguyen
  • Philippe Fournier-Viger
  • Ali Selamat


Mining association rules plays an important role in data mining and knowledge discovery since it can reveal strong associations between items in databases. Nevertheless, an important problem with traditional association rule mining methods is that they can generate a huge amount of association rules depending on how parameters are set. However, users are often only interested in finding the strongest rules, and do not want to go through a large amount of rules or wait for these rules to be generated. To address those needs, algorithms have been proposed to mine the top-k association rules in databases, where users can directly set a parameter k to obtain the k most frequent rules. However, a major issue with these techniques is that they remain very costly in terms of execution time and memory. To address this issue, this paper presents a novel algorithm named ETARM (Efficient Top-k Association Rule Miner) to efficiently find the complete set of top-k association rules. The proposed algorithm integrates two novel candidate pruning properties to more effectively reduce the search space. These properties are applied during the candidate selection process to identify items that should not be used to expand a rule based on its confidence, to reduce the number of candidates. An extensive experimental evaluation on six standard benchmark datasets show that the proposed approach outperforms the state-of-the-art TopKRules algorithm both in terms of runtime and memory usage.


Data mining Association rule mining Top-k association rules Rule Expansion 



This work was carried out during the tenure of an ERCIM ‘Alain Bensoussan’ Fellowship Programme.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Information TechnologyDong An PolytechnicBinh DuongVietnam
  2. 2.Faculty of Information TechnologyHo Chi Minh City University of TechnologyHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  3. 3.Division of Knowledge and System Engineering for ICTTon Duc Thang UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  4. 4.Faculty of Information TechnologyTon Duc Thang UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  5. 5.School of Humanities and Social SciencesHarbin Institute of Technology Shenzhen Graduate SchoolShenzhenChina
  6. 6.Universiti Teknologi MalaysiaJohorMalaysia

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