This lab on Subset Selection is a Python adaptation of p. 244-247 of "Introduction to Statistical Learning with Applications in R" by Gareth James, Daniela Witten, Trevor Hastie and Robert Tibshirani. Adapted by R. Jordan Crouser at Smith College for SDS293: Machine Learning (Spring 2016).

Want to follow along on your own machine? Download the .py or Jupyter Notebook version.

%matplotlib inline
import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
import itertools
import time
import statsmodels.api as sm
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt


# 6.5.1 Best Subset Selection¶

Here we apply the best subset selection approach to the Hitters data. We wish to predict a baseball playerâ€™s Salary on the basis of various statistics associated with performance in the previous year. Let's take a quick look:

hitters_df = pd.read_csv('Hitters.csv')


First of all, we note that the Salary variable is missing for some of the players. The isnull() function can be used to identify the missing observations. It returns a vector of the same length as the input vector, with a TRUE value for any elements that are missing, and a FALSE value for non-missing elements. The sum() function can then be used to count all of the missing elements:

print("Number of null values:", hitters_df["Salary"].isnull().sum())


We see that Salary is missing for 59 players. The dropna() function removes all of the rows that have missing values in any variable:

# Print the dimensions of the original Hitters data (322 rows x 20 columns)
print("Dimensions of original data:", hitters_df.shape)

# Drop any rows the contain missing values, along with the player names
hitters_df_clean = hitters_df.dropna().drop('Player', axis=1)

# Print the dimensions of the modified Hitters data (263 rows x 20 columns)
print("Dimensions of modified data:", hitters_df_clean.shape)

# One last check: should return 0
print("Number of null values:", hitters_df_clean["Salary"].isnull().sum())


Some of our predictors are categorical, so we'll want to clean those up as well. We'll ask pandas to generate dummy variables for them, separate out the response variable, and stick everything back together again:

dummies = pd.get_dummies(hitters_df_clean[['League', 'Division', 'NewLeague']])

y = hitters_df_clean.Salary

# Drop the column with the independent variable (Salary), and columns for which we created dummy variables
X_ = hitters_df_clean.drop(['Salary', 'League', 'Division', 'NewLeague'], axis=1).astype('float64')

# Define the feature set X.
X = pd.concat([X_, dummies[['League_N', 'Division_W', 'NewLeague_N']]], axis=1)


We can perform best subset selection by identifying the best model that contains a given number of predictors, where best is quantified using RSS. We'll define a helper function to outputs the best set of variables for each model size:

def processSubset(feature_set):
# Fit model on feature_set and calculate RSS
model = sm.OLS(y,X[list(feature_set)])
regr = model.fit()
RSS = ((regr.predict(X[list(feature_set)]) - y) ** 2).sum()

def getBest(k):

tic = time.time()

results = []

for combo in itertools.combinations(X.columns, k):
results.append(processSubset(combo))

# Wrap everything up in a nice dataframe
models = pd.DataFrame(results)

# Choose the model with the highest RSS

toc = time.time()
print("Processed", models.shape[0], "models on", k, "predictors in", (toc-tic), "seconds.")

# Return the best model, along with some other useful information about the model
return best_model


This returns a DataFrame containing the best model that we generated, along with some extra information about the model. Now we want to call that function for each number of predictors $k$:

# Could take quite awhile to complete...

models_best = pd.DataFrame(columns=["RSS", "model"])

tic = time.time()
for i in range(1,8):
models_best.loc[i] = getBest(i)

toc = time.time()
print("Total elapsed time:", (toc-tic), "seconds.")


Now we have one big DataFrame that contains the best models we've generated along with their RSS:

models_best


If we want to access the details of each model, no problem! We can get a full rundown of a single model using the summary() function:

print(models_best.loc[2, "model"].summary())


This output indicates that the best two-variable model contains only Hits and CRBI. To save time, we only generated results up to the best 7-variable model. You can use the functions we defined above to explore as many variables as are desired.

# Show the best 19-variable model (there's actually only one)
print(getBest(19)["model"].summary())


Rather than letting the results of our call to the summary() function print to the screen, we can access just the parts we need using the model's attributes. For example, if we want the $R^2$ value:

models_best.loc[2, "model"].rsquared


Excellent! In addition to the verbose output we get when we print the summary to the screen, fitting the OLM also produced many other useful statistics such as adjusted $R^2$, AIC, and BIC. We can examine these to try to select the best overall model. Let's start by looking at $R^2$ across all our models:

# Gets the second element from each row ('model') and pulls out its rsquared attribute
models_best.apply(lambda row: row[1].rsquared, axis=1)


As expected, the $R^2$ statistic increases monotonically as more variables are included.

Plotting RSS, adjusted $R^2$, AIC, and BIC for all of the models at once will help us decide which model to select. Note the type="l" option tells R to connect the plotted points with lines:

plt.figure(figsize=(20,10))
plt.rcParams.update({'font.size': 18, 'lines.markersize': 10})

# Set up a 2x2 grid so we can look at 4 plots at once
plt.subplot(2, 2, 1)

# We will now plot a red dot to indicate the model with the largest adjusted R^2 statistic.
# The argmax() function can be used to identify the location of the maximum point of a vector
plt.xlabel('# Predictors')

# We will now plot a red dot to indicate the model with the largest adjusted R^2 statistic.
# The argmax() function can be used to identify the location of the maximum point of a vector

plt.subplot(2, 2, 2)
plt.xlabel('# Predictors')

# We'll do the same for AIC and BIC, this time looking for the models with the SMALLEST statistic
aic = models_best.apply(lambda row: row[1].aic, axis=1)

plt.subplot(2, 2, 3)
plt.plot(aic)
plt.plot(aic.argmin(), aic.min(), "or")
plt.xlabel('# Predictors')
plt.ylabel('AIC')

bic = models_best.apply(lambda row: row[1].bic, axis=1)

plt.subplot(2, 2, 4)
plt.plot(bic)
plt.plot(bic.argmin(), bic.min(), "or")
plt.xlabel('# Predictors')
plt.ylabel('BIC')


Recall that in the second step of our selection process, we narrowed the field down to just one model on any $k<=p$ predictors. We see that according to BIC, the best performer is the model with 6 variables. According to AIC and adjusted $R^2$ something a bit more complex might be better. Again, no one measure is going to give us an entirely accurate picture... but they all agree that a model with 5 or fewer predictors is insufficient.

# 6.5.2 Forward and Backward Stepwise Selection¶

We can also use a similar approach to perform forward stepwise or backward stepwise selection, using a slight modification of the functions we defined above:

def forward(predictors):

# Pull out predictors we still need to process
remaining_predictors = [p for p in X.columns if p not in predictors]

tic = time.time()

results = []

for p in remaining_predictors:
results.append(processSubset(predictors+[p]))

# Wrap everything up in a nice dataframe
models = pd.DataFrame(results)

# Choose the model with the highest RSS

toc = time.time()
print("Processed ", models.shape[0], "models on", len(predictors)+1, "predictors in", (toc-tic), "seconds.")

# Return the best model, along with some other useful information about the model
return best_model


Now let's see how much faster it runs!

models_fwd = pd.DataFrame(columns=["RSS", "model"])

tic = time.time()
predictors = []

for i in range(1,len(X.columns)+1):
models_fwd.loc[i] = forward(predictors)
predictors = models_fwd.loc[i]["model"].model.exog_names

toc = time.time()
print("Total elapsed time:", (toc-tic), "seconds.")


Phew! That's a lot better. Let's take a look:

print(models_fwd.loc[1, "model"].summary())
print(models_fwd.loc[2, "model"].summary())


We see that using forward stepwise selection, the best one-variable model contains only Hits, and the best two-variable model additionally includes CRBI. Let's see how the models stack up against best subset selection:

print(models_best.loc[6, "model"].summary())
print(models_fwd.loc[6, "model"].summary())


For this data, the best one-variable through six-variable models are each identical for best subset and forward selection.

# Backward Selection¶

Not much has to change to implement backward selection... just looping through the predictors in reverse!

def backward(predictors):

tic = time.time()

results = []

for combo in itertools.combinations(predictors, len(predictors)-1):
results.append(processSubset(combo))

# Wrap everything up in a nice dataframe
models = pd.DataFrame(results)

# Choose the model with the highest RSS

toc = time.time()
print("Processed ", models.shape[0], "models on", len(predictors)-1, "predictors in", (toc-tic), "seconds.")

# Return the best model, along with some other useful information about the model
return best_model

models_bwd = pd.DataFrame(columns=["RSS", "model"], index = range(1,len(X.columns)))

tic = time.time()
predictors = X.columns

while(len(predictors) > 1):
models_bwd.loc[len(predictors)-1] = backward(predictors)
predictors = models_bwd.loc[len(predictors)-1]["model"].model.exog_names

toc = time.time()
print("Total elapsed time:", (toc-tic), "seconds.")


For this data, the best one-variable through six-variable models are each identical for best subset and forward selection. However, the best seven-variable models identified by forward stepwise selection, backward stepwise selection, and best subset selection are different:

print("------------")
print("Best Subset:")
print("------------")
print(models_best.loc[7, "model"].params)

print("-----------------")
print("Foward Selection:")
print("-----------------")
print(models_fwd.loc[7, "model"].params)

print("-------------------")
print("Backward Selection:")
print("-------------------")
print(models_bwd.loc[7, "model"].params)


# Getting credit¶

To get credit for this lab, please post an example where you would choose to use each of the following:

• Best subset
• Forward selection
• Backward selection

to Moodle.