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What Are Baseline Models and Benchmarking For Machine Learning, Why We Need Them?

Last Updated on January 31, 2022 by Editorial Team

Author(s): Hasan Basri Akçay

Originally published on Towards AI the World’s Leading AI and Technology News and Media Company. If you are building an AI-related product or service, we invite you to consider becoming an AI sponsor. At Towards AI, we help scale AI and technology startups. Let us help you unleash your technology to the masses.

Machine Learning

What Are Baseline Models and Benchmarking For Machine Learning, Why We Need Them? Part 1 Classification

Random, Machine Learning, Automated ML Baseline Models and Benchmarking For ML…

High Jump Olympics — Source Here

We can train a machine learning model with any prepared data but how can we be sure about the machine learning model learned from train data? The objective of this article is to explain baseline models in data science.

You can see the dataset here and you can see full python code at the end of the article.

What is Baseline Model?

The baseline models are references for our trained ML models. With baseline models, data scientists try to explain how their trained model is good and the score of the baseline model is the threshold for the data scientist.

What are Types of Baseline Model?

There are three types of the baseline model that are Random Baseline Models, ML Baseline Models, and Automated ML Baseline Models.

Random Baseline Models

In the real world, data can not always be predictable. In these such problems, the best baseline model is a dummy classifier or dummy regressor. That baseline model shows you to your ml model is learning or not. You can see how to use random baseline models below.

Firstly we create a random dataset for classification.

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
random_dim = (1000,3)
random_X = np.random.random(random_dim)
random_reg_y = np.random.random(random_dim[0])
random_clf_y = np.random.randint(random_dim[1], size=random_dim[0])
train_clf = np.concatenate((random_X, random_clf_y.reshape(random_dim[0], 1)), axis=1)
col_list = [str(i +1) for i in range(random_dim[1])]
train_clf = pd.DataFrame(train_clf, columns=col_list)
train_clf['target'] = train_clf['target'].astype('str')
Random Classification Dataset — image by author

Then we compare machine learning models by using the pycaret compare_models function. According to the results, the best model is Dummy Classifier because there is no relationship between features and target.

from pycaret.classification import *
clf = setup(data=train_clf, 
Dummy Classifier — image by author

Machine Learning Baseline Models

If data is predictable, the second step is to create an ml baseline model. This baseline model shows us which feature is important for prediction and which is not. Generally, ml baseline models use with feature engineering.

1. Baseline Scores

The first step is score calculations of the baseline ml model.

from pycaret.classification import *

CAT_FEATURES = ['Sex', 'Embarked']
NUM_FEATURES = ['Pclass', 'Age', 'SibSp', 'Parch', 'Fare']
IGN_FEATURES = ['PassengerId', 'Name', 'Ticket', 'Cabin']

clf = setup(data=titanic_train,
categorical_features = CAT_FEATURES,
numeric_features = NUM_FEATURES,
ignore_features = IGN_FEATURES)
baseline_model = create_model('rf')

baseline_preds = predict_model(baseline_model, raw_score=True)
Baseline Model (Random Forest) Scores — image by author

2. Feature Engineering

In this part, we add new features to the dataset.

import re
from sklearn.feature_extraction.text import TfidfVectorizer
from sklearn.decomposition import TruncatedSVD

# Name
titanic_train_FeaEng = titanic_train.copy()
name_last = titanic_train_FeaEng['Name'].str.split(' ', n=1, expand=True)[1]
title = name_last.str.split(' ', n=1, expand=True)[0]
titanic_train_FeaEng['Title'] = title

name_len = titanic_train_FeaEng['Name'].str.len()
titanic_train_FeaEng['Name_len'] = name_len

# Cabin
cabin_first = []
cabin_last = []
cabin_len = []

for cabin in titanic_train_FeaEng['Cabin']:
re_list = re.split('(\d+)',cabin)
if len(re_list) > 1:

titanic_train_FeaEng['Cabin_First'] = cabin_first
titanic_train_FeaEng['Cabin_Last'] = cabin_last
titanic_train_FeaEng['Cabin_Len'] = cabin_len


3. Features Importance

After feature engineering, we will add new features to the dataset one by one and we look at the score of baseline machine learning. If we have a better score, it means the new feature is good for predictions.

feature_score_dict = {}

for index, feature in enumerate(new_features):
old_features_temp = old_features.copy()
titanic_train_FeaEng_temp = titanic_train_FeaEng[

clf = setup(data=titanic_train_FeaEng_temp,

baseline_model = create_model('rf')
scores = pull()
feature_score_dict[feature] = scores

4. Score Data Preparations

In this part, we prepare the dataset that includes scores for visualization.

metric_list = []
feature_list = []
score_list = []

for key in feature_score_dict.keys():
score_list.extend(list(feature_score_dict[key].loc['Mean', :]))
feature_list.extend([key for i in range(len(feature_score_dict[key].columns))])

all_scores_pd = pd.DataFrame()
all_scores_pd['Metric'] = metric_list
all_scores_pd['Feature'] = feature_list
all_scores_pd['Score'] = score_list

5. Visualization

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import seaborn as sns

col_list = ['Accuracy', 'AUC', 'Recall', 'Prec.', 'F1', 'Kappa']
score_color = {'Accuracy':'C0', 'AUC':'C1', 'Recall':'C2', 'Prec.':'C3', 'F1':'C4', 'Kappa':'C5'}
New Feature Importance For Prediction— image by author

Automated Machine Learning Baseline Models

The final baseline model is the automated ml baseline model. It is a very good model for benchmarking your ml model. If your ml model is better than the automated baseline model, it is a very strong sign that the model can become a product.

1. LightAutoML

Firstly we install and import the lightautoml library.

!pip install -U lightautoml
# Imports from our package
from lightautoml.automl.presets.tabular_presets import TabularAutoML, TabularUtilizedAutoML
from lightautoml.dataset.roles import DatetimeRole
from lightautoml.tasks import Task

import torch

After that, we prepare the task, role, and metric for the lightautoml library.

from sklearn.metrics import accuracy_score
from sklearn.metrics import f1_score

N_THREADS = 4 # threads cnt for lgbm and linear models
N_FOLDS = 5 # folds cnt for AutoML
RANDOM_STATE = 42 # fixed random state for various reasons
TEST_SIZE = 0.2 # Test size for metric check
TIMEOUT = 300 # Time in seconds for automl run


def acc_score(y_true, y_pred, **kwargs):
return accuracy_score(y_true, (y_pred > 0.5).astype(int), **kwargs)

def f1_metric(y_true, y_pred, **kwargs):
return f1_score(y_true, (y_pred > 0.5).astype(int), **kwargs)

task = Task('binary', metric = acc_score)

roles = {
'target': 'Survived',
'drop': ['Passengerid', 'Name', 'Ticket'],

Now, we can calculate the cross-validation score by using the below code.

from sklearn.model_selection import StratifiedKFold

n_fold = 3
skf = StratifiedKFold(n_splits=n_fold)

print('lightautoml_acc_score: ', lightautoml_acc_score)
lightautoml_acc_score:  0.7957351290684626

2. H2O AutoML

Firstly we import the h2o library.

import h2o
from h2o.automl import H2OAutoML
H2O Init — image by author

Now, we can calculate the cross-validation score by using the below code.

acc_list = []
for train_index, test_index in skf.split(titanic_train, titanic_train['Survived']):
X_train, X_test = titanic_train.loc[train_index, :], titanic_train.loc[test_index, :]
y = X_test['Survived'].astype(int)
X_test.drop(['Survived'], axis=1, inplace=True)
print('h2o_tautoml_acc_score: ', h2o_tautoml_acc_score)
h2o_tautoml_acc_score:  0.8271604938271605

3. Visualization

After calculation of score of the auto ml models. Now, you can see scores that you should pass for strong ml production below.

fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(24, 8))
ax.plot([0, 10], [h2o_tautoml_acc_score, h2o_tautoml_acc_score], color='r')
ax.text(10, h2o_tautoml_acc_score, 'Base_H2O')
ax.plot([0, 10], [lightautoml_acc_score, lightautoml_acc_score], color='r')
ax.text(10, lightautoml_acc_score, 'Base_LightAutoMl');
Auto ML Scores — image by author

In this part of the article, we talked about baseline model types in classification problems. In the second part of the article, we will talk about baseline models in regression problems.

You can see full python code and all plots from here 👉 Kaggle Notebook.

👋 Thanks for reading. If you enjoy my work, don’t forget to like it, follow me on Medium and LinkedIn. It will motivate me in offering more content to the Medium community! 😊




What Are Baseline Models and Benchmarking For Machine Learning, Why We Need Them? was originally published in Towards AI on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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