Theoretical Description¶

The mapie.regression.MapieRegressor class uses various resampling methods based on the jackknife strategy recently introduced by Foygel-Barber et al. (2020) [1]. They allow the user to estimate robust prediction intervals with any kind of machine learning model for regression purposes on single-output data. We give here a brief theoretical description of the methods included in the module.

Before describing the methods, let’s briefly present the mathematical setting. For a regression problem in a standard independent and identically distributed (i.i.d) case, our training data has an unknown distribution . We can assume that where is the model function we want to determine and is the noise. Given some target quantile or associated target coverage level , we aim at constructing a prediction interval for a new feature vector such that

All the methods below are described with the absolute residual conformity score for simplicity but other conformity scores are implemented in MAPIE (see Theoretical Description for Conformity Scores).

1. The “Naive” method¶

The so-called naive method computes the residuals of the training data to estimate the typical error obtained on a new test data point. The prediction interval is therefore given by the prediction obtained by the model trained on the entire training set the quantiles of the conformity scores of the same training set:

or

where is the quantile of the distribution.

Since this method estimates the conformity scores only on the training set, it tends to be too optimistic and underestimates the width of prediction intervals because of a potential overfit. As a result, the probability that a new point lies in the interval given by the naive method would be lower than the target level .

The figure below illustrates the naive method.

2. The split method¶

The so-called split method computes the residuals of a calibration dataset to estimate the typical error obtained on a new test data point. The prediction interval is therefore given by the prediction obtained by the model trained on the training set the quantiles of the conformity scores of the calibration set:

or

where is the quantile of the distribution.

Since this method estimates the conformity scores only on a calibration set, one must have enough observations to split its original dataset into train and calibration as mentioned in [5]. We can notice that this method is very similar to the naive one, the only difference being that the conformity scores are not computed on the calibration set. Moreover, this method will always give prediction intervals with a constant width.

3. The jackknife method¶

The standard jackknife method is based on the construction of a set of leave-one-out models. Estimating the prediction intervals is carried out in three main steps:

• For each instance i = 1, …, n of the training set, we fit the regression function on the entire training set with the point removed, resulting in n leave-one-out models.

• The corresponding leave-one-out conformity score is computed for each point .

• We fit the regression function on the entire training set and we compute the prediction interval using the computed leave-one-out conformity scores:

The resulting confidence interval can therefore be summarized as follows

where

is the leave-one-out conformity score.

This method avoids the overfitting problem but can lose its predictive cover when becomes unstable, for example, when the sample size is close to the number of features (as seen in the “Reproducing the simulations from Foygel-Barber et al. (2020)” example).

4. The jackknife+ method¶

Unlike the standard jackknife method which estimates a prediction interval centered around the prediction of the model trained on the entire dataset, the so-called jackknife+ method uses each leave-one-out prediction on the new test point to take the variability of the regression function into account. The resulting confidence interval can therefore be summarized as follows

As described in [1], this method guarantees a higher stability with a coverage level of for a target coverage level of , without any a priori assumption on the distribution of the data nor on the predictive model.

5. The jackknife-minmax method¶

The jackknife-minmax method offers a slightly more conservative alternative since it uses the minimal and maximal values of the leave-one-out predictions to compute the prediction intervals. The estimated prediction intervals can be defined as follows

As justified by [1], this method guarantees a coverage level of for a target coverage level of .

The figure below, adapted from Fig. 1 of [1], illustrates the three jackknife methods and emphasizes their main differences.

However, the jackknife, jackknife+ and jackknife-minmax methods are computationally heavy since they require to run as many simulations as the number of training points, which is prohibitive for a typical data science use case.

6. The CV+ method¶

In order to reduce the computational time, one can adopt a cross-validation approach instead of a leave-one-out approach, called the CV+ method.

By analogy with the jackknife+ method, estimating the prediction intervals with CV+ is performed in four main steps:

• We split the training set into K disjoint subsets of equal size.

• K regression functions are fitted on the training set with the corresponding fold removed.

• The corresponding out-of-fold conformity score is computed for each point where k(i) is the fold containing i.

• Similar to the jackknife+, the regression functions are used to estimate the prediction intervals.

As for jackknife+, this method guarantees a coverage level higher than for a target coverage level of , without any a priori assumption on the distribution of the data. As noted by [1], the jackknife+ can be viewed as a special case of the CV+ in which . In practice, this method results in slightly wider prediction intervals and is therefore more conservative, but gives a reasonable compromise for large datasets when the Jacknife+ method is unfeasible.

7. The CV and CV-minmax methods¶

By analogy with the standard jackknife and jackknife-minmax methods, the CV and CV-minmax approaches are also included in MAPIE. As for the CV+ method, they rely on out-of-fold regression models that are used to compute the prediction intervals but using the equations given in the jackknife and jackknife-minmax sections.

The figure below, adapted from Fig. 1 of [1], illustrates the three CV methods and emphasizes their main differences.

8. The jackknife+-after-bootstrap method¶

In order to reduce the computational time, and get more robust predictions, one can adopt a bootstrap approach instead of a leave-one-out approach, called the jackknife+-after-bootstrap method, offered by Kim and al. [2]. Intuitively, this method uses ensemble methodology to calculate the aggregated prediction and residual by only taking subsets in which the observation is not used to fit the estimator.

By analogy with the CV+ method, estimating the prediction intervals with jackknife+-after-bootstrap is performed in four main steps:

• We resample the training set with replacement (bootstrap) times, and thus we get the (non-disjoint) bootstraps of equal size.

• regressions functions are then fitted on the bootstraps , and the predictions on the complementary sets are computed.

• These predictions are aggregated according to a given aggregation function , typically or , and the conformity scores are computed for each (with the boostraps not containing ).

• The sets (where indexes the training set) are used to estimate the prediction intervals.

As for jackknife+, this method guarantees a coverage level higher than for a target coverage level of , without any a priori assumption on the distribution of the data. In practice, this method results in wider prediction intervals, when the uncertainty is higher than , because the models’ prediction spread is then higher.

9. The Conformalized Quantile Regression (CQR) Method¶

The conformalized quantile regression (CQR) method allows for better interval widths with heteroscedastic data. It uses quantile regressors with different quantile values to estimate the prediction bounds. The residuals of these methods are used to create the guaranteed coverage value.

Notations and Definitions¶

• is the set of indices of the data in the training set.

• is the set of indices of the data in the calibration set.

• : Lower quantile model trained on .

• : Upper quantile model trained on .

• : Residuals for the i-th sample in the calibration set.

• : Residuals from the lower quantile model.

• : Residuals from the upper quantile model.

• : The -th empirical quantile of the set .

Mathematical Formulation¶

The prediction interval for a new sample is given by:

Where:

• is the predicted lower quantile for the new sample.

• is the predicted upper quantile for the new sample.

Note: In the symmetric method, and sets are no longer distinct. We consider directly the union set and the empirical quantile is then calculated on all the absolute (positive) residuals.

As justified by the literature, this method offers a theoretical guarantee of the target coverage level .

10. The ensemble batch prediction intervals (EnbPI) method¶

The coverage guarantee offered by the various resampling methods based on the jackknife strategy, and implemented in MAPIE, are only valid under the “exchangeability hypothesis”. It means that the probability law of data should not change up to reordering. This hypothesis is not relevant in many cases, notably for dynamical times series. That is why a specific class is needed, namely mapie.time_series_regression.MapieTimeSeriesRegressor.

Its implementation looks like the jackknife+-after-bootstrap method. The leave-one-out (LOO) estimators are approximated thanks to a few boostraps. However, the confidence intervals are like those of the jackknife method.

where is the aggregation of the predictions of the LOO estimators (mean or median), and is the residual of the LOO estimator at [4].

The residuals are no longer considered in absolute values but in relative values and the width of the confidence intervals are minimized, up to a given gap between the quantiles’ level, optimizing the parameter .

Moreover, the residuals are updated during the prediction, each time new observations are available. So that the deterioration of predictions, or the increase of noise level, can be dynamically taken into account.

Finally, the coverage guarantee is no longer absolute but asymptotic up to two hypotheses:

1. Errors are short-term independent and identically distributed (i.i.d)

2. Estimation quality: there exists a real sequence that converges to zero such that

The coverage level depends on the size of the training set and on .

Be careful: the bigger the training set, the better the covering guarantee for the point following the training set. However, if the residuals are updated gradually, but the model is not refitted, the bigger the training set is, the slower the update of the residuals is effective. Therefore there is a compromise to make on the number of training samples to fit the model and update the prediction intervals.

Key takeaways¶

• The jackknife+ method introduced by [1] allows the user to easily obtain theoretically guaranteed prediction intervals for any kind of sklearn-compatible Machine Learning regressor.

• Since the typical coverage levels estimated by jackknife+ follow very closely the target coverage levels, this method should be used when accurate and robust prediction intervals are required.

• For practical applications where is large and/or the computational time of each leave-one-out simulation is high, it is advised to adopt the CV+ method, based on out-of-fold simulations, or the jackknife+-after-bootstrap method, instead. Indeed, the methods based on the jackknife resampling approach are very cumbersome because they require to run a high number of simulations, equal to the number of training samples .

• Although the CV+ method results in prediction intervals that are slightly larger than for the jackknife+ method, it offers a good compromise between computational time and accurate predictions.

• The jackknife+-after-bootstrap method results in the same computational efficiency, and offers a higher sensitivity to epistemic uncertainty.

• The jackknife-minmax and CV-minmax methods are more conservative since they result in higher theoretical and practical coverages due to the larger widths of the prediction intervals. It is therefore advised to use them when conservative estimates are needed.

• The conformalized quantile regression method allows for more adaptiveness on the prediction intervals which becomes key when faced with heteroscedastic data.

• If the “exchangeability hypothesis” is not valid, typically for time series, use EnbPI, and update the residuals each time new observations are available.

The table below summarizes the key features of each method by focusing on the obtained coverages and the computational cost. , , and are the number of training samples, test samples, and cross-validated folds, respectively.

Key features of MAPIE methods (adapted from [1])*.

Method

Theoretical coverage

Typical coverage

Training cost

Evaluation cost

Naïve

No guarantee

1

Split

1

Jackknife

No guarantee

or if unstable

Jackknife+

Jackknife-minmax

CV

No guarantee

or if unstable

CV+

CV-minmax

Jackknife-aB+

Jackknife-aB-minmax

Conformalized quantile regressor

EnbPI

(asymptotic)

*

Here, the training and evaluation costs correspond to the computational time of the MAPIE .fit() and .predict() methods.

References¶

[1] Rina Foygel Barber, Emmanuel J. Candès, Aaditya Ramdas, and Ryan J. Tibshirani. “Predictive inference with the jackknife+.” Ann. Statist., 49(1):486–507, February 2021.

[2] Byol Kim, Chen Xu, and Rina Foygel Barber. “Predictive Inference Is Free with the Jackknife+-after-Bootstrap.” 34th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2020).

[3] Yaniv Romano, Evan Patterson, Emmanuel J. Candès. “Conformalized Quantile Regression.” Advances in neural information processing systems 32 (2019).

[4] Chen Xu and Yao Xie. “Conformal Prediction Interval for Dynamic Time-Series.” International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML, 2021).

[5] Jing Lei, Max G’Sell, Alessandro Rinaldo, Ryan J Tibshirani, and Larry Wasserman. “Distribution-free predictive inference for regression”. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 113(523):1094–1111, 2018.