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Automated Machine Learning for Supervised Learning using R

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Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) is an approach that aims to automate various stages of the machine learning process, making it easier for users with limited machine learning expertise to build high-performing models. AutoML is particularly useful in supervised learning, where you have labeled data and want to create models that can make predictions or classifications based on that data. This theory will focus on the concept of AutoML for supervised learning using the R programming language.

Key Components of AutoML for Supervised Learning

Data Preparation

  • Data Collection: Gather and collect your data from various sources.
  • Data Cleaning: Handle missing values, outliers, and data preprocessing tasks like normalization and encoding categorical variables.
  • Data Splitting: Split the dataset into training and test sets to assess model performance.

Feature Engineering

  • Feature Selection: Identify and choose relevant features for your model.
  • Feature Transformation: Perform transformations on your features to make them more suitable for modeling.

AutoML Framework

Choose an AutoML framework or package in R, such as mlr or caret that provides automated tools for model selection, hyperparameter tuning, and more.

Model Selection

  • Specify the target variable and features.
  • Define the type of supervised learning task (e.g., classification or regression).

Hyperparameter Tuning

Use the AutoML framework to automatically search for the best hyperparameters for the chosen algorithms.

Model Training and Evaluation

  • AutoML will train various models using different algorithms and hyperparameters.
  • Evaluate models using performance metrics (e.g., accuracy, precision, recall, F1-score, RMSE).
  • Cross-validation helps assess the model’s generalization to unseen data.

Model Selection

  • AutoML ranks models based on their performance on the validation dataset.
  • The best-performing model is selected as the final model.

Advantages of AutoML for Supervised Learning

  • Accessibility: AutoML makes machine learning accessible to individuals with limited data science expertise, allowing more people to harness the power of ML.
  • Efficiency: It automates time-consuming and repetitive tasks, reducing the time and effort required to build and tune machine learning models.
  • Model Performance: AutoML leverages various algorithms and hyperparameters, improving the chances of finding high-performing models.
  • Consistency: AutoML provides a consistent and systematic approach to model development, reducing the impact of human bias.
  • Scalability: It can handle large datasets and complex models without a significant increase in manual effort.

Challenges of AutoML

  • Overfitting: AutoML may lead to overfitting if not configured properly, as it explores a wide range of models and hyperparameters.
  • Interpretability: Highly automated models may be less interpretable, which can be a problem in regulated industries or for model debugging.
  • Resource Intensiveness: Training multiple models with various hyperparameters can be computationally expensive and may require substantial computational resources.
  • Customization: AutoML may not support highly customized model development or niche algorithms.

Use Cases for AutoML in R

  • Predictive Analytics: AutoML can be used for predictive analytics tasks, such as predicting customer churn, sales forecasting, or demand prediction.
  • Classification: It is valuable for classification tasks like spam detection, image recognition, and sentiment analysis.
  • Regression: AutoML can automate the modeling of continuous outcomes, such as predicting prices, temperature, or stock returns.
  • Recommendation Systems: AutoML can help build recommendation systems that suggest products, movies, or content to users.
  • Anomaly Detection: It can assist in developing models for identifying unusual patterns or anomalies in data.

Here’s a example for AutoML with hyperparameter tuning using the mlr package


# Load the mlr package
# Load the Iris dataset
# Define features and target variable
features <- setdiff(names(iris), "Species")
target <- "Species"
# Create a task object for multiclass classification
task <- makeClassifTask(data = iris, target = target)
# Define a single learner (e.g., Random Forest)
learner <- makeLearner("classif.ranger", predict.type = "response")
# Define a parameter grid for hyperparameter tuning (e.g., number of trees)
param_grid <- makeParamSet(
  makeIntegerParam("num.trees", lower = 50, upper = 500)
# Create a tuning control
ctrl <- makeTuneControlRandom(maxit = 10)
# Perform AutoML with hyperparameter tuning
result <- tuneParams(learner, task, resampling = makeResampleDesc("CV", iters = 5),
                     measures = list(acc), par.set = param_grid, control = ctrl)
# View model results



[Tune] Started tuning learner classif.ranger for parameter set:
Type len Def Constr Req Tunable Trafo
num.trees integer - - 50 to 500 - TRUE -
With control class: TuneControlRandom
Imputation value: -0
[Tune-x] 1: num.trees=151
[Tune-y] 1: acc.test.mean=0.9533333; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 2: num.trees=148
[Tune-y] 2: acc.test.mean=0.9533333; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 3: num.trees=302
[Tune-y] 3: acc.test.mean=0.9600000; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 4: num.trees=68
[Tune-y] 4: acc.test.mean=0.9600000; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 5: num.trees=97
[Tune-y] 5: acc.test.mean=0.9533333; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 6: num.trees=173
[Tune-y] 6: acc.test.mean=0.9600000; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 7: num.trees=124
[Tune-y] 7: acc.test.mean=0.9533333; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 8: num.trees=203
[Tune-y] 8: acc.test.mean=0.9600000; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 9: num.trees=425
[Tune-y] 9: acc.test.mean=0.9600000; time: 0.0 min
[Tune-x] 10: num.trees=423
[Tune-y] 10: acc.test.mean=0.9600000; time: 0.0 min
[Tune] Result: num.trees=68 : acc.test.mean=0.9600000
Tune result:
Op. pars: num.trees=68

First, we load the necessary R packages, including mlr, xgboost, and ranger. You also load the Iris dataset and define the features and target variable for your supervised learning task.

  • We create a task object using the makeClassifTask function. This object represents a multiclass classification task, with the Iris dataset as the data source and the “Species” column as the target variable.
  • Define a single learner using the makeLearner function. In this example, you’re using the classif.ranger learner, which represents a random forest classifier. The predict.type is set to “response” to indicate that the learner should produce class probabilities.
  • We define a parameter grid using the makeParamSet function. This parameter grid specifies the hyperparameters that you want to tune. In this case, you’re tuning the “num.trees” parameter, which represents the number of trees in the random forest. The grid specifies a range from 50 to 500 with integer values.
  • Create a tuning control object using the makeTuneControlRandom function. This control object specifies the tuning strategy for hyperparameter optimization. In this case, you’re using random search (maxit = 10) to explore different hyperparameter combinations.
  • Than perform AutoML with hyperparameter tuning by calling the tuneParams function. It takes several arguments.
    • learner: The learner you defined earlier.
    • task: The classification task.
    • resampling: The resampling strategy, which is 5-fold cross-validation in this case.
    • measures: A list of performance measures, including accuracy (acc).
    • par.set: The parameter set specifying the hyperparameters to tune.
    • control: The tuning control strategy.
  • Op. pars: These are the optimal hyperparameters that were found during the hyperparameter tuning process. In this case, the optimal number of trees (num.trees) for the random forest model is set to 68.
  • acc.test.mean: This is the mean accuracy (classification accuracy) achieved on the test data. An accuracy of 0.96 means that the model correctly predicted 96% of the test samples.

In summary, the tuned model achieved an accuracy of 96% on the test data with an optimal number of 68 trees in the random forest model. This indicates that the model is performing well for the multiclass classification task on the Iris dataset.

Automated Machine Learning for Supervised Learning using caret package


# Install and load the caret library
# Generate a random dataset
n <- 100
random_data <- data.frame(
  X1 = rnorm(n),
  X2 = rnorm(n),
  Y = rbinom(n, 1, 0.5)
# Define target variable
target <- "Y"
# Specify the training control and the model tuning grid
ctrl <- trainControl(method = "cv", number = 5)
tune_grid <- expand.grid(.mtry = 2:5)
# Run AutoML with random forests as an example
model <- train(random_data[, setdiff(names(random_data), target)],
           random_data[, target], method = "rf", trControl = ctrl, tuneGrid = tune_grid)
# Make predictions on synthetic data
new_data <- data.frame(X1 = 0.1, X2 = -0.2)
predictions <- predict(model, newdata = new_data)
# Evaluate the model and view the results



Random Forest 
100 samples
2 predictor
No pre-processing
Resampling: Cross-Validated (5 fold)
Summary of sample sizes: 80, 80, 80, 80, 80
Resampling results across tuning parameters:
mtry RMSE Rsquared MAE
2 0.5333827 0.04581951 0.4778230
3 0.5299803 0.04279376 0.4743377
4 0.5318672 0.04155868 0.4779127
5 0.5333452 0.04622749 0.4785377
RMSE was used to select the optimal model using the smallest value.
The final value used for the model was mtry = 3.

You will first install and load the machine learning Caret library and the RandomForest library, which provides the random forest algorithm for predictive modeling.

  • For reproducibility, a random starting value (123) was set.
  • You generate a random data set containing two predictor variables, X1 and X2, and a binary target variable, Y. The rnorm function generates random values ​​for X1 and X2
  • You define your target variable as “Y”, which is the variable you want to predict or classify.
  • You can use trainControl to set training controls. It specifies 5-fold cross-validation (method=”cv”) for model evaluation.
  • You can also create an optimization grid for a random forest model and vary the number of variables to be considered in each split.
  • You can use the train function to create an AutoML model. It takes a dataset (predictors and target), specifies an “rf” for the random forest, uses training control settings and provides a tuning grid for hyperparameter optimization.
  • After training the model, you can use it to make predictions. You create a new data frame, new_data, where the values ​​of X1 and X2 are used to predict the corresponding Y values. In this example, you set X1 = 0.1 and X2 = -0.2.

Finally, evaluate the performance of the model by viewing the model results via the print function. These results include information about the random forest model, such as the number of trees, the importance of the variables, and the accuracy of the model.


AutoML for supervised learning in R automates and streamlines the process of developing machine learning models. It is a powerful tool for users with varying levels of expertise to quickly build and deploy predictive models, and it is especially useful in cases where time, expertise, or computational resources are limited. However, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of machine learning and to carefully evaluate and interpret the results generated by AutoML tools.

Last Updated : 05 Nov, 2023
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