Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

This article is part of the supplement: Selected articles from ISCB-Asia 2012

Open Access Research

Multiclass relevance units machine: benchmark evaluation and application to small ncRNA discovery

Mark Menor, Kyungim Baek* and Guylaine Poisson*

Author affiliations

Department of Information and Computer Sciences, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2013, 14(Suppl 2):S6  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-S2-S6

Published: 15 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Classification is the problem of assigning each input object to one of a finite number of classes. This problem has been extensively studied in machine learning and statistics, and there are numerous applications to bioinformatics as well as many other fields. Building a multiclass classifier has been a challenge, where the direct approach of altering the binary classification algorithm to accommodate more than two classes can be computationally too expensive. Hence the indirect approach of using binary decomposition has been commonly used, in which retrieving the class posterior probabilities from the set of binary posterior probabilities given by the individual binary classifiers has been a major issue.

Methods

In this work, we present an extension of a recently introduced probabilistic kernel-based learning algorithm called the Classification Relevance Units Machine (CRUM) to the multiclass setting to increase its applicability. The extension is achieved under the error correcting output codes framework. The probabilistic outputs of the binary CRUMs are preserved using a proposed linear-time decoding algorithm, an alternative to the generalized Bradley-Terry (GBT) algorithm whose application to large-scale prediction settings is prohibited by its computational complexity. The resulting classifier is called the Multiclass Relevance Units Machine (McRUM).

Results

The evaluation of McRUM on a variety of real small-scale benchmark datasets shows that our proposed Naïve decoding algorithm is computationally more efficient than the GBT algorithm while maintaining a similar level of predictive accuracy. Then a set of experiments on a larger scale dataset for small ncRNA classification have been conducted with Naïve McRUM and compared with the Gaussian and linear SVM. Although McRUM's predictive performance is slightly lower than the Gaussian SVM, the results show that the similar level of true positive rate can be achieved by sacrificing false positive rate slightly. Furthermore, McRUM is computationally more efficient than the SVM, which is an important factor for large-scale analysis.

Conclusions

We have proposed McRUM, a multiclass extension of binary CRUM. McRUM with Naïve decoding algorithm is computationally efficient in run-time and its predictive performance is comparable to the well-known SVM, showing its potential in solving large-scale multiclass problems in bioinformatics and other fields of study.