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Analyzing the tree-layer structure of Deep Forests

Ludovic Arnould · Claire Boyer · Erwan Scornet

Keywords: [ Deep Learning Theory ]


Random forests on the one hand, and neural networks on the other hand, have met great success in the machine learning community for their predictive performance. Combinations of both have been proposed in the literature, notably leading to the so-called deep forests (DF) (Zhou & Feng,2019). In this paper, our aim is not to benchmark DF performances but to investigate instead their underlying mechanisms. Additionally, DF architecture can be generally simplified into more simple and computationally efficient shallow forest networks. Despite some instability, the latter may outperform standard predictive tree-based methods. We exhibit a theoretical framework in which a shallow tree network is shown to enhance the performance of classical decision trees. In such a setting, we provide tight theoretical lower and upper bounds on its excess risk. These theoretical results show the interest of tree-network architectures for well-structured data provided that the first layer, acting as a data encoder, is rich enough.

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