A comparative study on large scale kernelized support vector machines

  • Daniel Horn
  • Aydın Demircioğlu
  • Bernd Bischl
  • Tobias Glasmachers
  • Claus Weihs
Regular Article


Kernelized support vector machines (SVMs) belong to the most widely used classification methods. However, in contrast to linear SVMs, the computation time required to train such a machine becomes a bottleneck when facing large data sets. In order to mitigate this shortcoming of kernel SVMs, many approximate training algorithms were developed. While most of these methods claim to be much faster than the state-of-the-art solver LIBSVM, a thorough comparative study is missing. We aim to fill this gap. We choose several well-known approximate SVM solvers and compare their performance on a number of large benchmark data sets. Our focus is to analyze the trade-off between prediction error and runtime for different learning and accuracy parameter settings. This includes simple subsampling of the data, the poor-man’s approach to handling large scale problems. We employ model-based multi-objective optimization, which allows us to tune the parameters of learning machine and solver over the full range of accuracy/runtime trade-offs. We analyze (differences between) solvers by studying and comparing the Pareto fronts formed by the two objectives classification error and training time. Unsurprisingly, given more runtime most solvers are able to find more accurate solutions, i.e., achieve a higher prediction accuracy. It turns out that LIBSVM with subsampling of the data is a strong baseline. Some solvers systematically outperform others, which allows us to give concrete recommendations of when to use which solver.


Support vector machine Multi-objective optimization Supervised learning Machine learning Large scale Nonlinear SVM Parameter tuning 

Mathematics Subject Classification

62-07 Data analysis 



We acknowledge support by the Mercator Research Center Ruhr, under Grant Pr-2013-0015 Support-Vektor-Maschinen für extrem große Datenmengen and partial support by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the Collaborative Research Centers SFB 823 Statistical modelling of nonlinear dynamic processes, Project C2.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fakultät StatistikTechnische Universität DortmundDortmundGermany
  2. 2.Ruhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany
  3. 3.Department of StatisticsLMU MünchenMunichGermany

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