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A Unified Framework for Random Forest Prediction Error Estimation

Benjamin Lu, Johanna Hardin; 22(8):1−41, 2021.


We introduce a unified framework for random forest prediction error estimation based on a novel estimator of the conditional prediction error distribution function. Our framework enables simple plug-in estimation of key prediction uncertainty metrics, including conditional mean squared prediction errors, conditional biases, and conditional quantiles, for random forests and many variants. Our approach is especially well-adapted for prediction interval estimation; we show via simulations that our proposed prediction intervals are competitive with, and in some settings outperform, existing methods. To establish theoretical grounding for our framework, we prove pointwise uniform consistency of a more stringent version of our estimator of the conditional prediction error distribution function. The estimators introduced here are implemented in the R package forestError.

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