For a complete list of my work please refer to my curriculum vitae.

A budget-constrained inverse classification framework for smooth classifiers

Michael T. Lash, Qihang Lin, W. Nick Street, and Jennifer G. Robinson

Inverse classification is the process of manipulating an instance such that it is more likely to conform to a specific class. Past methods that address such a problem have shortcomings. Greedy methods make changes that are overly radical, often relying on data that is strictly discrete. Other methods rely on certain data points, the presence of which cannot be guaranteed. In this paper we propose a general framework and method that overcomes these and other limitations. The formulation of our method uses any differentiable classification function. We demonstrate the method by using Gaussian kernel SVMs. We constrain the inverse classification to occur on features that can actually be changed, each of which incurs an individual cost. We further subject such changes to fall within a certain level of cumulative change (budget). Our framework can also accommodate the estimation of features whose values change as a consequence of actions taken (indirectly changeable features). Furthermore, we propose two methods for specifying feature-value ranges that result in different algorithmic behavior. We apply our method, and a proposed sensitivity analysis-based benchmark method, to two freely available datasets: Student Performance, from the UCI Machine Learning Repository and a real-world cardiovascular disease dataset. The results obtained demonstrate the validity and benefits of our framework and method.

| Published Article| Code|

Learning Rich Geographical Representations: Predicting Colorectal Cancer Survival in the State of Iowa

Michael T. Lash, Yuqi Sun, Xun Zhou, Charles F. Lynch, and W. Nick Street

Neural networks are capable of learning rich, nonlinear feature representations shown to be beneficial in many predictive tasks. In this work, we use these models to explore the use of geographical features in predicting colorectal cancer survival curves for patients in the state of Iowa, spanning the years 1989 to 2012. Specifically, we compare model performance using a newly defined metric -- area between the curves (ABC) -- to assess (a) whether survival curves can be reasonably predicted for colorectal cancer patients in the state of Iowa, (b) whether geographical features improve predictive performance, and (c) whether a simple binary representation or richer, spectral clustering-based representation perform better. Our findings suggest that survival curves can be reasonably estimated on average, with predictive performance deviating at the five-year survival mark. We also find that geographical features improve predictive performance, and that the best performance is obtained using richer, spectral analysis-elicited features.

| Published Article| Slides|

A Large-Scale Exploration of Factors Affecting Hand Hygiene Compliance Using Linear Predictive Models

Michael T. Lash, Jason Slater, Philip M. Polgreen, and Alberto M. Segre

This large-scale study, consisting of 24.5 million hand hygiene opportunities spanning 19 distinct facilities in 10 different states, uses linear predictive models to expose factors that may affect hand hygiene compliance. We examine the use of features such as temperature, relative humidity, influenza severity, day/night shift, federal holidays and the presence of new residents in predicting daily hand hygiene compliance. The results suggest that colder temperatures and federal holidays have an adverse effect on hand hygiene compliance rates, and that individual cultures and attitudes regarding hand hygiene seem to exist among facilities.

| Published Article| Slides|

Generalized Inverse Classification

Michael T. Lash, Qihang Lin, W. Nick Street, Jennifer G. Robinson and Jeffrey Ohlmann

Inverse classification is the process of perturbing an instance in a meaningful way such that it is more likely to conform to a specific class. Historical methods that address such a problem are often framed to leverage only a single classifier, or specific set of classifiers. These works are often accompanied by naive assumptions. In this work we propose generalized inverse classification (GIC), which avoids restricting the classification model that can be used. We incorporate this formulation into a refined framework in which GIC takes place. Under this framework, GIC operates on features that are immediately actionable. Each change incurs an individual cost, either linear or non-linear. Such changes are subjected to occur within a specified level of cumulative change (budget). Furthermore, our framework incorporates the estimation of features that change as a consequence of direct actions taken (indirectly changeable features). To solve such a problem, we propose three real-valued heuristic-based methods and two sensitivity analysis-based comparison methods, each of which is evaluated on two freely available real-world datasets. Our results demonstrate the validity and benefits of our formulation, framework, and methods.

| Published Article| Slides|

Early Predictions of Movie Success-- the Who, What, and When of Profitability

Michael T. Lash and Kang Zhao

This research focuses on predicting the profitability of a movie to support movie investment decisions at early stages of film production. By leveraging data from various sources, and using social network analysis and text mining techniques, the proposed system extracts several types of features, including “who” are on the cast, “what” a movie is about, “when” a movie will be released, as well as “hybrid” features. Experiment results showed that the system outperforms benchmark methods by a large margin. Novel features we proposed also made great contributions to the prediction. In addition to designing a decision support system with practical utilities, we also analyzed key factors for movie profitability. Furthermore, we demonstrated the prescriptive value of our system by illustrating how it can be used to recommend a set of profit-maximizing cast members. This research highlights the power of predictive and prescriptive data analytics for information systems to aid business decisions.

| Published Article | Preprint|

Early Prediction of Movie Success-- What, Who, and When

Michael T. Lash, Sunyang Fu, Shiyao Wang, and Kang Zhao

Leveraging historical data from the movie industry, this study built a predictive model for movie success, deviating from past studies by predicting profit (as opposed to revenue) at early stages of production (as opposed to just prior to release) to increase investor certainty. Our work derived several groups of novel features for each movie, based on the cast and collaboration network (who'), content ('what'), and time of release ('when').

| Published Article| Poster|