A Simple Approach to Ordinal Classification

  • Eibe Frank
  • Mark Hall
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2167)


Machine learning methods for classification problems commonly assume that the class values are unordered. However, in many practical applications the class values do exhibit a natural order—for example, when learning how to grade. The standard approach to ordinal classification converts the class value into a numeric quantity and applies a regression learner to the transformed data, translating the output back into a discrete class value in a post-processing step. A disadvantage of this method is that it can only be applied in conjunction with a regression scheme.

In this paper we present a simple method that enables standard classification algorithms to make use of ordering information in class attributes. By applying it in conjunction with a decision tree learner we show that it outperforms the naive approach, which treats the class values as an unordered set. Compared to special-purpose algorithms for ordinal classification our method has the advantage that it can be applied without any modification to the underlying learning scheme.


Class Attribute Ordinal Classification Binary Attribute Ratio Quantity Decision Tree Learner 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eibe Frank
    • 1
  • Mark Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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