# What is Random Forest?

• Editor
• January 6, 2024
Updated

What is Random Forest? Random forest, a concept that resonates deeply in the realm of artificial intelligence and machine learning, stands as a testament to the power of ensemble learning methods.
Known for its remarkable simplicity and formidable capability to process large datasets, random forest algorithm is a cornerstone in data science, revered for its high accuracy and versatility.
Looking to learn more about the random forest and its use in AI? Keep reading this article written by the AI professionals at All About AI.

## What is Radial Basis Function Network – A Fun Detective Story!

Imagine Random Forest as a team of smart detectives in a computer. It’s a big part of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which is like teaching computers to think and solve problems.

Random Forest works by getting help from lots of smaller detective teams (called “trees”). Each team looks at a part of a puzzle (or data) and makes a guess. Then, all the teams come together to make the best guess.

This method is really cool because it’s simple but can solve big puzzles with lots of pieces (big datasets). It’s very important in data science, a field where people use computers to find patterns and answers in lots of data. Random Forest is famous for being really good (high accuracy) at solving different kinds of puzzles (versatility).

## How Does the Random Forest Algorithm Work?

Here’s an overview of how the random forest algorithm works.

### Step 1: Selection of Random Samples

The first step in a random forest algorithm involves selecting random samples from the given dataset. This is done using a method called bootstrapping, which creates multiple subsets of data from the original dataset, with replacement.

### Step 2: Building Multiple Decision Trees

For each random subset of data, a decision tree is constructed. These trees are built by selecting a random set of features at each node to determine the split. The number of features can be specified as a parameter of the algorithm.

### Step 3: Determining the Output for Each Decision Tree

In this step, each decision tree in the forest provides an output. For classification tasks, it’s the predicted class; for regression, it’s a numerical value.

### Step 4: Voting or Averaging the Results

The final prediction of the random forest algorithm is determined by aggregating the outputs of all the decision trees. In classification, this is typically done by a majority vote, and in regression, by averaging the outputs.

### Step 5: Providing the Final Output

Based on the aggregated results from all decision trees, the random forest algorithm gives its final output, which is either a class label (in classification tasks) or a continuous value (in regression tasks).

## What Makes the Random Forest Different from Decision Trees?

Random forest and decision trees are often mentioned in the same breath, yet they are distinct in their operation.

### Ensemble vs Single Model

Random forest is an ensemble method that combines multiple decision trees to make a decision, whereas a decision tree is a single predictive model.

### Reduction in Overfitting

Random forests reduce the risk of overfitting by averaging or voting the results of multiple trees, unlike decision trees which can easily overfit the data.

### Handling of High Dimensional Data

Random forests can handle high dimensional spaces and large numbers of training examples better than decision trees.

### Improved Accuracy

Due to the averaging/voting mechanism, random forests generally provide more accurate predictions compared to individual decision trees.

### Complexity and Interpretability

Random forests are more complex and less interpretable than decision trees, as they involve multiple trees and the ensemble method.

## Where is the Random Forest Applied in Real Life?

The versatility of the random forest algorithm finds its applications in diverse sectors.
From the banking sector, where it aids in fraud detection, to healthcare for predictive diagnostics, and in e-commerce for crafting personalized recommendation systems – its ability to manage large datasets with multiple variables makes it an invaluable tool across various domains.

• Banking Sector: Used for detecting fraudulent transactions, random forests analyze patterns and discrepancies in transaction data.
• Healthcare: In medical diagnostics, random forests assist in identifying diseases by analyzing patient data and medical histories.
• Stock Market: Applied in predicting stock behavior, they analyze market trends and company performance indicators.
• E-commerce: Used for recommendation systems, random forests help in suggesting products based on user behavior and preferences.
• Environmental Modeling: They are used for predicting environmental changes and assessing the impact of various factors on ecosystems.

## Key Advantages of Using the Random Forest in Data Science:

Random forest brings several advantages to the table in data science:

• High Accuracy: Random forests provide high accuracy in predictions by averaging or voting the outcomes of multiple decision trees.
• Robust to Overfitting: They are less prone to overfitting compared to single decision trees, especially in cases with noisy data.
• Handles Large Data Sets: Efficient in handling large datasets with higher dimensionality without the need for feature reduction.
• Versatility: Applicable to both classification and regression tasks, making them a versatile tool in data science.
• Automatic Feature Selection: Random forests automatically select the most important features, reducing the need for manual feature selection.

## Understanding the Limitations of the Random Forest:

Despite its strengths, random forest isn’t without its limitations:

• Complexity and Interpretability: Random forests are more complex and less interpretable than single decision trees.
• Computationally Intensive: They require more computational resources and time to train due to the ensemble of multiple trees.
• Not the Best for Linear Methods: For data with linear relationships, random forests may not perform as well as other algorithms.
• Memory Consumption: They can consume a lot of memory as they require storage of multiple decision trees.
• Poor Performance on Very Small Datasets: On very small datasets, the model may not perform well due to a lack of diversity in the trees.

## The Future of the Random Forest in Machine Learning:

As the field of machine learning continues to evolve, the relevance of the random forest algorithm remains steadfast.

### Enhanced Computational Efficiency

With advancements in computational power and algorithms, we can expect random forests to become even more efficient, reducing training times and resource consumption.

### Integration with Deep Learning

A key trend is the integration of random forests with deep learning techniques, potentially leading to improved performance in complex tasks.

### Application in Big Data

As big data continues to grow, random forests will become increasingly valuable for their ability to handle large datasets and high dimensionality.

### Improved Methods for Interpretability

Future developments may focus on making random forests more interpretable, possibly through visualizations or simplifying the ensemble methods.
Expansion in Varied Domains

Expect to see broader applications of random forests across different sectors like finance, healthcare, and environmental science, driven by their versatility and robustness.

## Want to Read More? Explore These AI Glossaries!

Venture into the world of artificial intelligence with our carefully curated glossaries. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced enthusiast, there’s always something new to uncover!

• What Is Computational Neuroscience?: Computational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary scientific field that employs mathematical models, theoretical analysis, and computer simulations to understand the structure, dynamics, and functioning of the nervous system and the brain, particularly in relation to cognitive and behavioral functions.
• What Is Computational Number Theory?: It is a branch of mathematics that deals with algorithms for performing calculations within number theory.
• What Is a Computational Problem?: A computational problem is a task or a question that can be addressed and solved using computational methods.
• What is Computer Automated Design?: Computer Automated Design (CAD) is a digital technology that enables engineers, architects, and designers to create, modify, and optimize detailed 2D and 3D models of objects and structures with precision and efficiency.
• What is Concept Drift?: concept drift refers to the phenomenon where the statistical properties of data used to train a machine learning model change over time, leading to a decrease in the model’s performance.

## FAQs

A random forest is an ensemble machine learning method that builds multiple decision trees and merges their outcomes for more accurate and robust predictions.

Random forest excels in complex classification and regression tasks where handling large datasets and achieving high accuracy are paramount.

Unlike a single decision tree model, a random forest combines the results of multiple decision trees to enhance accuracy and prevent overfitting.

The advantages include high accuracy, the ability to manage large datasets, and versatility. The downsides are its complexity, the need for substantial computational resources, and less interpretability compared to single decision trees.

## Conclusion

In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of AI, the random forest algorithm stands as a robust, adaptable tool. Its ability to navigate complex machine learning tasks with remarkable accuracy makes it an indispensable resource for data scientists and AI practitioners.
This article was written to answer the question, “what is the random forest.” If you’re looking to learn more about different AI concepts, check out the rest of the glossary articles we have in our AI Definitions Guide.