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title: "Learners"
output: rmarkdown::html_vignette
vignette: >
```{r, echo = FALSE, message=FALSE}
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The following classes provide a unified interface to all popular machine learning methods in **R**:
(cost-sensitive) classification, regression, survival analysis, and clustering.
Many are already integrated in `mlr`, others are not, but the package is specifically designed to make extensions simple.
Section [integrated learners](integrated_learners.html){target="_blank"} shows the already implemented machine learning methods and their properties.
If your favorite method is missing, either [open an issue]( or take a look at how to [integrate a learning method yourself](create_learners.html){target="_blank"}.
This basic introduction demonstrates how to use already implemented learners.
# Constructing a learner
A learner in `mlr` is generated by calling `makeLearner()`.
In the constructor you need to specify which learning method you want to use.
Moreover, you can:
* Set hyperparameters.
* Control the output for later prediction, e.g., for classification whether you want a factor of predicted class labels or probabilities.
* Set an ID to name the object (some methods will later use this ID to name results or annotate plots).
# Classification tree, set it up for predicting probabilities
classif.lrn = makeLearner("classif.randomForest", predict.type = "prob", fix.factors.prediction = TRUE)
# Regression gradient boosting machine, specify hyperparameters via a list
regr.lrn = makeLearner("regr.gbm", par.vals = list(n.trees = 500, interaction.depth = 3))
# Cox proportional hazards model with custom name
surv.lrn = makeLearner("surv.coxph", id = "cph")
# K-means with 5 clusters
cluster.lrn = makeLearner("cluster.kmeans", centers = 5)
# Multilabel Random Ferns classification algorithm
multilabel.lrn = makeLearner("multilabel.rFerns")
The first argument specifies which algorithm to use.
The naming convention is ``classif.<R_method_name>`` for classification methods, ``regr.<R_method_name>`` for regression methods, ``surv.<R_method_name>`` for survival analysis, ``cluster.<R_method_name>`` for clustering methods, and ``multilabel.<R_method_name>`` for multilabel classification.
Hyperparameter values can be specified either via the ``...`` argument or as a `list` via ``par.vals``.
The first option is preferred as `par.vals` is mainly used to declare hyperparameters that are set differently in `mlr` compared to the defaults of the underlying model.
If you want to change a hyperparameter in `mlr` by default that differs from the actual default, make sure to also add an entry in the `"note"` slot of the learner.
This entry should describe the reason for the change.
Common ones are turning off automatic parallelization or changing logical arguments of the learner to enable a more conservative memory management.
Occasionally, `factor` features may cause problems when fewer levels are present in the test data set than in the training data.
By setting `fix.factors.prediction = TRUE` these are avoided by adding a factor level for missing data in the test data set.
Let's have a look at two of the learners created above.
All generated learners are objects of class Learner (`makeLearner()`).
This class contains the properties of the method, e.g., which types of features it can handle, what kind of output is possible during prediction, and whether multi-class problems, observations weights or missing values are supported.
As you might have noticed, there is currently no special learner class for cost-sensitive classification.
For ordinary misclassification costs you can use standard classification methods.
For example-dependent costs there are several ways to generate cost-sensitive learners from ordinary regression and classification learners.
This is explained in greater detail in the section about [cost-sensitive classification](cost_sensitive_classif.html){target="_blank"}.
# Accessing a learner
The Learner (`makeLearner()`) object is a `list` and the following elements contain information regarding the hyperparameters and the type of prediction.
# Get the configured hyperparameter settings that deviate from the defaults
# Get the set of hyperparameters
# Get the type of prediction
Slot ``$par.set`` is an object of class `ParamSet` (`ParamHelpers::makeParamSet()`).
It contains, among others, the type of hyperparameters (e.g., numeric, logical), potential default values and the range of allowed values.
Moreover, `mlr` provides function `getHyperPars()` or its alternative `getLearnerParVals()` to access the current hyperparameter setting of a Learner, (`makeLearner()`) and `getParamSet()` to get a description of all possible settings.
These are particularly useful in case of wrapped Learner (`makeLearner()`)s, for example if a learner is fused with a feature selection strategy, and both, the learner as well the feature selection method, have hyperparameters.
For details see the section on [wrapped learners](
# Get current hyperparameter settings
# Get a description of all possible hyperparameter settings
We can also use `getParamSet()` or its alias `getLearnerParamSet()` to get a quick overview about the available hyperparameters and defaults of a learning method without explicitly constructing it (by calling `makeLearner()`).
Functions for accessing a Learner's meta information are available in `mlr`. We can use `getLearnerId()`, `getLearnerShortName()` and `getLearnerType()` to get Learner's ID, short name and type, respectively.
Moreover, in order to show the required packages for the Learner, one can call `getLearnerPackages()`.
# Get object's id
# Get the short name
# Get the type of the learner
# Get required packages
# Modifying a learner
There are also some functions that enable you to change certain aspects of a Learner (`makeLearner()`) without needing to create a new Learner (`makeLearner()`) from scratch.
Here are some examples.
# Change the ID
surv.lrn = setLearnerId(surv.lrn, "CoxModel")
# Change the prediction type, predict a factor with class labels instead of probabilities
classif.lrn = setPredictType(classif.lrn, "response")
# Change hyperparameter values
cluster.lrn = setHyperPars(cluster.lrn, centers = 4)
# Go back to default hyperparameter values
regr.lrn = removeHyperPars(regr.lrn, c("n.trees", "interaction.depth"))
# Listing learners
A list of all learners integrated in `mlr` and their respective properties is shown in the [Appendix](integrated_learners.html){target="_blank"}.
If you would like a list of available learners, maybe only with certain properties or suitable for a certain learning `Task()` use function `listLearners()`.
# List everything in mlr
lrns = listLearners()
head(lrns[c("class", "package")])
# List classifiers that can output probabilities
lrns = listLearners("classif", properties = "prob")
head(lrns[c("class", "package")])
# List classifiers that can be applied to iris (i.e., multiclass) and output probabilities
lrns = listLearners(iris.task, properties = "prob")
head(lrns[c("class", "package")])
# The calls above return character vectors, but you can also create learner objects
head(listLearners("cluster", create = TRUE), 2)
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