Concepts and terminology

dabl tries to reduce the turnaround time required for a quick baseline estimate of a supervised learning problem. It does so by automating the task of iterating through different techniques of data preprocessing, feature engineering, parameter tuning and model building to generate efficacious baseline models.

Since the process involves automatic iterations, some of the techniques require heuristics to generate the best possible outcome. dabl also employs the use of specific terminologies related to datasets, plots or machine learning techniques.

Column types

One of the most important aspects of preprocessing is understanding the type of data present in each column of your dataset. The columns could contain integers that are binary, ordinal or nominal; float; character strings or even missing and garbage values.

dabl segregates columns into ‘continuous’, ‘categorical’, ‘low_card_int’, ‘dirty_float’, ‘free_string’, ‘date’, and ‘useless’ categories:

  • low_card_int: a column with very few distinct integer values

    • Detection: a column with integer values is considered a low cardinality integer column if:

      • The number of distinct integers is less than max_int_cardinality in detect_types method. The column is ‘continuous’ if number of distinct integers is greater than this threshold value.

      • In case of plot, if the rate of change of probability distribution curves for a set of distinct integer values in the columns is more than the rate of change of distribution curves of randomly shuffled values from the same set, we consider those values to be low cardinality integers. This is because in case of a higher rate of change, the probability distribution curve will be jagged signifying that the numbers are not continuous.

      Apart from this, the column is ‘categorical’ if the number of distinct integers is less than or equal to 5.

    • Treatment: all ‘low_card_int’ columns are treated as ‘categorical’ and ‘continuous’ in preprocessing and model building.