Generalized Bradley-Terry Models and Multi-Class Probability Estimates

Tzu-Kuo Huang, Ruby C. Weng, Chih-Jen Lin.

Year: 2006, Volume: 7, Issue: 4, Pages: 85−115


The Bradley-Terry model for obtaining individual skill from paired comparisons has been popular in many areas. In machine learning, this model is related to multi-class probability estimates by coupling all pairwise classification results. Error correcting output codes (ECOC) are a general framework to decompose a multi-class problem to several binary problems. To obtain probability estimates under this framework, this paper introduces a generalized Bradley-Terry model in which paired individual comparisons are extended to paired team comparisons. We propose a simple algorithm with convergence proofs to solve the model and obtain individual skill. Experiments on synthetic and re al data demonstrate that the algorithm is useful for obtaining multi-class probability estimates. Moreover, we discuss four extensions of the proposed model: 1) weighted individual skill, 2) home-field advantage, 3) ties, and 4) comparisons with more than two teams.