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Michigan-style learning classifier systems (M-LCSs) represent an adaptive and powerful class of evolutionary algorithms which distribute the learned solution over a sizable population of rules. However their application to complex real world data mining problems, such as genetic association studies, has been limited. Traditional knowledge discovery strategies for M-LCS rule populations involve sorting and manual rule inspection. While this approach may be sufficient for simpler problems, the confounding influence of noise and the need to discriminate between predictive and non-predictive attributes calls for additional strategies. Additionally, tests of significance must be adapted to M-LCS analyses in order to make them a viable option within fields that require such analyses to assess confidence. In this work we introduce an M-LCS analysis pipeline that combines uniquely applied visualizations with objective statistical evaluation for the identification of predictive attributes, and reliable rule generalizations in noisy single-step data mining problems. This work considers an alternative paradigm for knowledge discovery in M-LCSs, shifting the focus from individual rules to a global, population-wide perspective. We demonstrate the efficacy of this pipeline applied to the identification of epistasis (i.e., attribute interaction) and heterogeneity in noisy simulated genetic association data.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2012