- AI vs. ML vs. DL
- Apache Spark & Deep Learning
- Attention Mechanisms & Memory Networks
- Automated Machine Learning & AI
- AI & Autonomous Vehicles
- Backpropagation
- Bag of Words & TF-IDF
- Clojure AI
- Comparison of AI Frameworks
- Convolutional Neural Network (CNN)
- Data for Deep Learning
- Datasets and Machine Learning
- Decision Tree
- Deep Autoencoders
- Deep-Belief Networks
- Deep Reinforcement Learning
- Deep Learning Resources
- Deeplearning4j
- Denoising Autoencoders
- Machine Learning DevOps
- Differentiable Programming
- Eigenvectors, Eigenvalues, PCA, Covariance and Entropy
- Evolutionary & Genetic Algorithms
- Fraud and Anomaly Detection
- Generative Adversarial Network (GAN)
- Glossary
- Gluon
- Graph Analytics
- Hopfield Networks
- Hyperparameter
- Wiki Home
- Java AI
- Jumpy
- Logistic Regression
- LSTMs & RNNs
- Machine Learning Algorithms
- Machine Learning Demos
- Machine Learning Software
- Machine Learning Operations (MLOps)
- Machine Learning Research Groups & Labs
- Machine Learning Workflows
- Machine Learning
- Markov Chain Monte Carlo
- Multilayer Perceptron
- Natural Language Processing (NLP)
- ND4J
- Neural Network Tuning
- Neural Networks
- Open Datasets
- Python AI
- Questions When Applying Deep Learning
- Radial Basis Function Networks
- Random Forest
- Recurrent Network (RNN)
- Recursive Neural Tensor Network
- Restricted Boltzmann Machine (RBM)
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) & AI
- Scala AI
- Single-layer Network
- Skynet, or How to Regulate AI
- Spiking Neural Networks
- Stacked Denoising Autoencoder (SDA)
- Strong AI vs. Weak AI
- Supervised Learning
- Symbolic Reasoning
- Text Analysis
- Thought Vectors
- Unsupervised Learning
- Deep Learning Use Cases
- Variational Autoencoder (VAE)
- Word2Vec, Doc2Vec and Neural Word Embeddings

A decision tree is a series of nodes, a directional graph that starts at the base with a single node and extends to the many leaf nodes that represent the categories that the tree can classify. Another way to think of a decision tree is as a flow chart, where the flow starts at the root node and ends with a decision made at the leaves. It is a decision-support tool. It uses a tree-like graph to show the predictions that result from a series of feature-based splits.

Here are some useful terms for describing a decision tree:

- Root Node: A root node is at the beginning of a tree. It represents entire population being analyzed. From the root node, the population is divided according to various features, and those sub-groups are split in turn at each decision node under the root node.
- Splitting: It is a process of dividing a node into two or more sub-nodes.
- Decision Node: When a sub-node splits into further sub-nodes, it’s a decision node.
- Leaf Node or Terminal Node: Nodes that do not split are called leaf or terminal nodes.
- Pruning: Removing the sub-nodes of a parent node is called pruning. A tree is grown through splitting and shrunk through pruning.
- Branch or Sub-Tree: A sub-section of decision tree is called branch or a sub-tree, just as a portion of a graph is called a sub-graph.
- Parent Node and Child Node: These are relative terms. Any node that falls under another node is a child node or sub-node, and any node which precedes those child nodes is called a parent node.

Decision trees are a popular algorithm for several reasons:

- Explanatory Power: The output of decision trees is interpretable. It can be understood by people without analytical or mathematical backgrounds. It does not require any statistical knowledge to interpret them.
- Exploratory data analysis: Decision trees can enable analysts to identify significant variables and important relations between two or more variables, helping to surface the signal contained by many input variables.
- Minimal data cleaning: Because decision trees are resilient to outliers and missing values, they require less data cleaning than some other algorithms.
- Any data type: Decision trees can make classifications based on both numerical and categorical variables.
- Non-parametric: A decision tree is a non-parametric algorithm, as opposed to neural networks, which process input data transformed into a tensor, via tensor multiplication using large number of coefficients, known as parameters.

**Disadvantages**

- Overfitting: Over fitting is a common flaw of decision trees. Setting constraints on model parameters (depth limitation) and making the model simpler through pruning are two ways to regularize a decision tree and improve its ability to generalize onto the test set.
- Predicting continuous variables: While decision trees can ingest continuous numerical input, they are not a practical way to predict such values, since decision-tree predictions must be separated into discrete categories, which results in a loss of information when applying the model to continuous values.
- Heavy feature engineering: The flip side of a decision tree’s explanatory power is that it requires heavy feature engineering. When dealing with unstructured data or data with latent factors, this makes decision trees sub-optimal. Neural networks are clearly superior in this regard.

One weird thing about decision trees (or random forests) is how conceptually simple they are, while in terms of implementation they’re non-trivial. How do you find the optimal split/feature based on entropy? Naively implemented, they require something on the order of O(kNlogN) for each split. Multiply that by the number of leaves (2^depth), and multiply that by the number of trees in your forest.