Interactive Prior Elicitation of Feature Similarities for Small Sample Size Prediction

Homayun Afrabandpey, Tomi Peltola, Samuel Kaski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Regression under the "small n$, large p" condition, of small sample size n and large number of features p in the learning data set, is a recurring setting in which learning from data is difficult. With prior knowledge about relationships of the features, p can effectively be reduced, but explicating such prior knowledge is difficult for experts. In this paper we introduce a new method for eliciting expert prior knowledge about the similarity of the roles of features in the prediction task. The key idea is to use an interactive multidimensional-scaling (MDS) type scatterplot display of the features to elicit the similarity relationships, and then use the elicited relationships in the prior distribution of prediction parameters. Specifically, for learning to predict a target variable with Bayesian linear regression, the feature relationships are used to construct a Gaussian prior with a full covariance matrix for the regression coefficients. Evaluation of our method in experiments with simulated and real users on text data confirm that prior elicitation of feature similarities improves prediction accuracy. Furthermore, elicitation with an interactive scatterplot display outperforms straightforward elicitation where the users choose feature pairs from a feature list.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 25th Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization
Place of PublicationBratislava, Slovakia
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-4635-1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventConference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization - Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, Slovakia
Duration: 9 Jul 201712 Jul 2017


ConferenceConference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization
Abbreviated titleUMAP
Internet address


  • interaction
  • prior elicitation
  • regression
  • small n large p
  • visualization

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Interactive Prior Elicitation of Feature Similarities for Small Sample Size Prediction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this