A decision tree is a popular and easy-to-understand machine learning algorithm used for classification and regression tasks. It splits the data into subsets based on the value of input features, forming a tree-like model of decisions. Here’s a high-level overview of how a decision tree works:

  1. Splitting: The data is split into subsets based on an attribute value test. This process is recursive and forms branches of the tree.
  2. Decision Nodes and Leaves: Each internal node in the tree represents a test on an attribute, each branch represents the outcome of the test, and each leaf node represents a class label (in classification) or a continuous value (in regression).
  3. Root Node: The topmost node in a decision tree. It represents the best predictor based on the feature that provides the most significant information gain or reduction in variance.
  4. Pruning: Reduces the size of decision trees by removing sections of the tree that provide little power. This helps in improving the model’s accuracy by reducing overfitting.

Example: Simple Decision Tree for Classification

Consider a dataset with the following features: Weather (Sunny, Rainy), Temperature (Hot, Mild, Cool), and Play (Yes, No). A decision tree might look like this:

        /       \
     Sunny     Rainy
    /   \         \
  Hot  Mild      Cool
  /      \         \
Yes      No       Yes

Building a Decision Tree

  1. Select the Best Feature: Use a metric like Gini impurity or Information Gain to select the feature that best splits the data.
  2. Split the Dataset: Divide the dataset into subsets where each subset contains instances with the same value for the feature.
  3. Repeat: Recursively apply the above steps to each subset until you meet a stopping criterion (e.g., maximum depth of the tree, minimum number of samples per leaf, or no further information gain).

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