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KNN Model Complexity
  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 05 Sep, 2020

KNN is a machine learning algorithm which is used for both classification (using KNearestClassifier) and Regression (using KNearestRegressor) problems.In KNN algorithm K is the Hyperparameter. Choosing the right value of K matters. A machine learning model is said to have high model complexity if the built model is having low Bias and High Variance.

We know that,

  1. High Bias and Low Variance = Under-fitting model.
  2. Low Bias and High Variance = Over-fitting model. [Indicated highly complex model ].
  3. Low Bias and Low Variance = Best fitting model. [This is preferred ].
  4. High training accuracy and Low test accuracy ( out of sample accuracy ) = High Variance = Over-fitting model = More model complexity.
  5. Low training accuracy and Low test accuracy ( out of sample accuracy ) = High Bias = Under-fitting model.

Code: To understand how K value in KNN algorithm affects the model complexity.

# This code may not run on GFG ide
# As required modules are not found.
# Import required modules
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from sklearn.datasets import make_regression
from sklearn.neighbors import KNeighborsRegressor
from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split
import numpy as np
# Synthetically Create Data Set
x, y = make_regression(
    n_samples = 100, n_features = 1
    n_informative = 1, noise = 15, random_state = 3)
plt.scatter(x, y, color ='red', marker ='o', s = 30)
# Train the model.
knn = KNeighborsRegressor(n_neighbors = 7)
x_train, x_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(
    x, y, test_size = 0.2, random_state = 0), y_train)
predict = knn.predict(x_test)
print('Test Accuracy:', knn.score(x_test, y_test))
print('Training Accuracy:', knn.score(x_train, y_train))
# Plot The Output
x_new = np.linspace(-3, 2, 100).reshape(100, 1)
predict_new = knn.predict(x_new)
    x_new, predict_new, color ='blue'
    label ="K = 7")
plt.scatter(x_train, y_train, color ='red' )
plt.scatter(x_test, predict, marker ='^', s = 90)


Test Accuracy: 0.6465919540035108
Training Accuracy: 0.8687977824212627

Now let’s vary the value of K (Hyperparameter) from Low to High and observe the model complexity
K = 1

K = 10

K = 20

K = 50

K = 70


  • When K value is small i.e. K=1, The model complexity is high ( Over-fitting or High Variance).
  • When K value is very large i.e. K=70, The model complexity decreases ( Under-fitting or High Bias ).

As K value becomes small model complexity increases and as K value becomes large the model complexity decreases.

Code: Let’s consider the below plot

# This code may not run on GFG
# As required modules are not found.
# To plot test accuracy and train accuracy Vs K value.
p = list(range(1, 31))
lst_test =[]
lst_train =[]
for i in p:
    knn = KNeighborsRegressor(n_neighbors = i), y_train)
    z = knn.score(x_test, y_test)
    t = knn.score(x_train, y_train)
plt.plot(p, lst_test, color ='red', label ='Test Accuracy')
plt.plot(p, lst_train, color ='b', label ='Train Accuracy')
plt.xlabel('K VALUES --->')


From the above graph, we can conclude that when K is small i.e. K=1, Training Accuracy is High but Test Accuracy is Low which means the model is over-fitting ( High Variance or High Model Complexity). When the value of K is large i.e. K=50, Training Accuracy is Low as well as Test Accuracy is Low which means the model is under-fitting ( High Bias or Low Model Complexity ).

So Hyperparameter tuning is necessary i.e. to select the best value of K in KNN algorithm for which the model has Low Bias and Low Variance and results in a good model with high out of sample accuracy.

We can use GridSearchCV or RandomSearchCv to find the best value of hyper parameter K.

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