Is Feature Scaling Used and Where Does It Fit in Python?

For greater precision in machine learning (ML) models, data may be transformed to meet a particular scale. Since ML is comprised of various components, it’s imperative to maintain an appropriate equilibrium between them. Moreover, machine learning methods allow you to integrate and amplify features, thus mitigating their disproportionate effect on the model purely based on their size.

Typical methods for scaling features

In order to build an effective machine learning model, it’s crucial to include feature scaling in the data preparation process. Feature scaling is a potent technique that helps differentiate between distinct models of different capacities. Two widely-used methods for feature scaling are normalisation and standardisation, both of which can enhance its efficiency.

  1. Standardisation

    Standardisation involves computing values that are centered on a mean of zero and possess a standard deviation of exactly one. This suggests that the mean of the attribute is 0 and that the distribution’s standard deviation is 1.

    Values aren’t constrained to a specific range when employing standardisation.
  2. Normalisation

    Normalisation is a pre-processing method for data where the dataset’s values are shifted and rescaled to fall within the range of 0 to 1. This technique is also commonly called rescaling or min-max scaling.

    When X takes its minimum possible value, both the numerator and X’ will be zero.

    In the limit, X’ will be equal to 1 when the numerator and denominator converge.

    Whenever X falls into the range [0,1], the value of X’ will be between zero and one.

Normalisation vs Standardisation: Which is Superior?

Values outside the range of 0 to 1 or -1 to 1 are normalised. The data is then standardised so that it has a mean of zero and a variance of one. This procedure eliminates the need for specific measurement units when analysing the data, making it easier to compare different datasets.

Why is Scalability Crucial?

Feature scaling plays a vital role in various inter-data attribute computations. Machine learning algorithms rely on numerical values, rather than feature rankings, making it crucial to consider the relative scales of features to ensure accurate outcomes.

Scaling is a crucial procedure in neural networks and other algorithms to expedite faster convergence. Without normalisation, the variability in the original data values could impede the performance of objective functions. For instance, most classifiers utilize distance measures to gauge the difference between two data points. This distance measure is heavily affected by the range of values of one characteristic. Thus, it’s crucial to standardise the range of all characteristics to ensure that each attribute contributes equally to the total distance.

If none of the aforementioned situations apply, it’s still important to rescale characteristics if the algorithm requires a particular scale or saturation level. For example, if a neural network has reached its peak performance, it’s generally recommended to compute the gap or adopt a standard by scaling attributes.

Machine learning algorithms can only interpret data points; they are unable to discern underlying factors. For instance, the number 10 may be used to represent both mass and time, making it understandable for humans. However, computers merely see the number 10 in both cases, leading to the need to teach the computer about the importance of numbers. This is where feature scaling comes in handy. Feature scaling adjusts the range of values in a dataset, enabling a computer to comprehend the significance of numerical values.

Feature scaling subjects all features to the same, uniform evaluation criteria. In contrast, neural networks and other algorithms have a gradient descent that quickly converges with feature scaling. Scaling helps to reduce the sigmoid activation saturation rate in a neural network.

If There Is a Time for Scaling, It Would Be Now

Below are some algorithms that require feature scaling.

  • K-Nearest Neighbors (KNN) with a Euclidean distance metric can be employed for accurately quantifying sensitive-sized data, while ensuring equitable treatment of all characteristics.
  • When assessing feature scaling, K-means clustering with a Euclidean distance is essential.
  • In the process of Principal Component Analysis (PCA), scaling features is a vital step. The goal of PCA is to identify characteristics with the most significant variation and extract them. This is usually attained by considering the magnitude of the features since larger features tend to have a higher variance which can dominate the principal component analysis.
  • Gradient Descent can be accelerated by utilising Scaling since with rising variable difference, the rate of decrease of theta decreases exponentially and oscillations become inefficient at reaching the optimal value. Scaling allows for quicker theta reduction over shorter ranges, a gentler decrease over longer ranges, and a more efficient oscillation to the optimal value when the variables are uneven.

Rule-based algorithms differ from other algorithms in that their structure remains unaffected by input volume size. This is because any variable modifications do not alter the algorithm structure. Scaling is a gradual, continuous process. For instance, tree-based algorithms like Classification and Regression Trees (CART) and gradient-enhanced decision trees rely on fixed rules instead of normalisation techniques.

Feature scaling isn’t required for Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) and Naive Bayes algorithms because they can already assign appropriate weights to the features. However, it’s worth noting that standardisation has no effect on the covariance matrix, but variable scaling and mean centering do affect it.

Feature Scaling: What It Is and How to Utilize It

To scale features, one may employ one of the methods listed below:

  1. Min-max
  2. MaxAbs
  3. Quantile Transform
  4. Standard
  5. Robust
  6. Representation of a Unit Vector with a Dotted Line
  7. Energy Transformer
  1. Maximum Minimisation

    Each feature in the dataset can be transformed independently to fit within the specified value range of the training set. When working with data with negative values, the min-max scaler can be utilised to compress the data into the range of -1 to 1.

    Based on the associated distribution, training sets may be given a numerical range from 0 to 1, or from -1 to 1. Scaling yields the best outcomes when the distribution isn’t Gaussian, and the standard deviation is moderate. And, like other scalers, these scalers are susceptible to influence by extreme values.
  2. Scaling with Maximum Absolute Deviation

    MaxAbs scaling enables adjustment of the magnitude of individual features by utilising the largest absolute value. This sets the maximum value of each feature to 1, and scales are estimated accordingly. It’s crucial to note that data relocation isn’t necessary, which preserves sparsity. When all of the data is positive, the scaler operates similarly to a min-max scaler, making it vulnerable to extreme values.
  3. Quantile Transform Scaling

    Quantile Transformer Scaling, also known as rank scaler, changes features based on pre-determined quantiles, affecting the most frequent values. This method of scaling is an effective way to mitigate the impact of extreme outliers.

    The projected values come from a chosen feature’s cumulative distribution function, but it’s important to note that this is a non-linear transformation that can disrupt linear relationships between features on the same scale. To guarantee that data can be directly compared, one should explore visualisations that combine information from multiple scales.
  4. Uniform Assessment

    For data in a given feature that follows a normal distribution, the Standard Scaler may be implemented to transform values so that the feature’s mean is 0 and standard deviation is 1. It’s crucial to compute the necessary metrics on samples in the training set when separately centering and scaling features. However, this scaling method is unsuitable when the data is not normally distributed.
  5. Robust Scaling

    This scaler is capable of handling extreme data points with great accuracy and ease. Unlike other standard and mean deviation scaling methods, this quantile scaler removes the median value of the data set and adjusts the scale to accurately represent the values around it.

    The difference between the first and third quartiles is known as the interquartile range. After the scaler modifies the data, the numbers are expressed as a percentage, reducing the potential influence of single, exceptionally large outliers. However, outliers in the data can still be observed. If independent outlier clipping is necessary, a non-linear transformation may be required.
  6. Unit Vector Scaling

    When implementing unit vector scaling, all components of the feature vector are considered. It’s typical to divide the individual components by the Euclidean length of the vector. The L1 norm of the feature vector is useful in some scenarios.

    The unit vector method produces values ranging from zero to one, similar to min-max scaling. It’s well-suited for features with well-defined boundaries.
  7. Regulating the Size of a Power Transformer

    The power transformer scaling family is a group of monotonic parametric adjustments that can make data more Gaussian. This technique is useful for addressing problems where a variable cannot be predicted within the standard range. To maximise variance stability and reduce skewness, the power transformer will select the optimal scaling factor.

    The Sklearn library now includes the Yeo-Johnson transformation in its power transformer scaling implementation. It’s recommended to use maximum likelihood estimation of parameters when trying to reduce skewness and stabilise the variance of both positive and negative data. This method can handle both types of data.

    Feature scaling is a crucial step in the pre-processing phase of machine learning. Proper feature scaling must be implemented to hasten convergence of deep learning algorithms. However, it’s important to note that feature scaling is an experimental process, and the optimal solution may not always be readily apparent.

Join the Top 1% of Remote Developers and Designers

Works connects the top 1% of remote developers and designers with the leading brands and startups around the world. We focus on sophisticated, challenging tier-one projects which require highly skilled talent and problem solvers.
seasoned project manager reviewing remote software engineer's progress on software development project, hired from Works blog.join_marketplace.your_wayexperienced remote UI / UX designer working remotely at home while working on UI / UX & product design projects on Works blog.join_marketplace.freelance_jobs