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Tree-Values: Selective Inference for Regression Trees

Anna C. Neufeld, Lucy L. Gao, Daniela M. Witten; 23(305):1−43, 2022.

Abstract

We consider conducting inference on the output of the Classification and Regression Tree (CART) (Breiman et al., 1984) algorithm. A naive approach to inference that does not account for the fact that the tree was estimated from the data will not achieve standard guarantees, such as Type 1 error rate control and nominal coverage. Thus, we propose a selective inference framework for conducting inference on a fitted CART tree. In a nutshell, we condition on the fact that the tree was estimated from the data. We propose a test for the difference in the mean response between a pair of terminal nodes that controls the selective Type 1 error rate, and a confidence interval for the mean response within a single terminal node that attains the nominal selective coverage. Efficient algorithms for computing the necessary conditioning sets are provided. We apply these methods in simulation and to a dataset involving the association between portion control interventions and caloric intake.

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