Bayesian neural networks for classification: How useful is the evidence framework?

W D. Penny, S J. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents an empirical assessment of the Bayesian evidence framework for neural networks using four synthetic and four real-world classification problems. We focus on three issues; model selection, automatic relevance determination (ARD) and the use of committees. Model selection using the evidence criterion is only tenable if the number of training examples exceeds the number of network weights by a factor of five or ten. With this number of available examples, however, cross-validation is a viable alternative. The ARD feature selection scheme is only useful in networks with many hidden units and for data sets containing many irrelevant variables. ARD is also useful as a hard feature selection method. Results on applying the evidence framework to the real-world data sets showed that committees of Bayesian networks achieved classification accuracies similar to the best alternative methods. Importantly, this was achievable with a minimum of human intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-892
Number of pages16
JournalNeural Networks
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1999

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