Missing imputation methods explored in big data analytics
Brydon, Humphrey Charles
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The aim of this study is to look at the methods and processes involved in imputing missing data and more specifically, complete missing blocks of data. A further aim of this study is to look at the effect that the imputed data has on the accuracy of various predictive models constructed on the imputed data and hence determine if the imputation method involved is suitable. The identification of the missingness mechanism present in the data should be the first process to follow in order to identify a possible imputation method. The identification of a suitable imputation method is easier if the mechanism can be identified as one of the following; missing completely at random (MCAR), missing at random (MAR) or not missing at random (NMAR). Predictive models constructed on the complete imputed data sets are shown to be less accurate for those models constructed on data sets which employed a hot-deck imputation method. The data sets which employed either a single or multiple Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) or the Fully Conditional Specification (FCS) imputation methods are shown to result in predictive models that are more accurate. The addition of an iterative bagging technique in the modelling procedure is shown to produce highly accurate prediction estimates. The bagging technique is applied to variants of the neural network, a decision tree and a multiple linear regression (MLR) modelling procedure. A stochastic gradient boosted decision tree (SGBT) is also constructed as a comparison to the bagged decision tree. Final models are constructed from 200 iterations of the various modelling procedures using a 60% sampling ratio in the bagging procedure. It is further shown that the addition of the bagging technique in the MLR modelling procedure can produce a MLR model that is more accurate than that of the other more advanced modelling procedures under certain conditions. The evaluation of the predictive models constructed on imputed data is shown to vary based on the type of fit statistic used. It is shown that the average squared error reports little difference in the accuracy levels when compared to the results of the Mean Absolute Prediction Error (MAPE). The MAPE fit statistic is able to magnify the difference in the prediction errors reported. The Normalized Mean Bias Error (NMBE) results show that all predictive models constructed produced estimates that were an over-prediction, although these did vary depending on the data set and modelling procedure used. The Nash Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) was used as a comparison statistic to compare the accuracy of the predictive models in the context of imputed data. The NSE statistic showed that the estimates of the models constructed on the imputed data sets employing a multiple imputation method were highly accurate. The NSE statistic results reported that the estimates from the predictive models constructed on the hot-deck imputed data were inaccurate and that a mean substitution of the fully observed data would have been a better method of imputation. The conclusion reached in this study shows that the choice of imputation method as well as that of the predictive model is dependent on the data used. Four unique combinations of imputation methods and modelling procedures were concluded for the data considered in this study.