The optimal combination of feature selection and data discretization: An empirical study

Chih Fong Tsai, Yu Chi Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Feature selection and data discretization are two important data pre-processing steps in data mining, with the focus in the former being on filtering out unrepresentative features and in the latter on transferring continuous attributes into discrete ones. In the literature, these two domain problems have often been studied, individually. However, the combination of these two steps has not been fully explored, although both feature selection and discretization may be required for some real-world datasets. In this paper, two different combination orders of feature selection and discretization are examined in terms of their classification accuracies and computational times. Specifically, filter, wrapper, and embedded feature selection methods are employed, which are PCA, GA, and C4.5, respectively. For discretization, both supervised and unsupervised learning based discretizers are used, specifically MDLP, ChiMerge, equal frequency binning, and equal width binning. The experimental results, based on 10 UCI datasets, show that, for the SVM classifier performing MDLP first and C4.5 second outperforms the other combinations. Not only is less computational time required but this also provides the highest rate of classification accuracy. For the decision tree classifier, performing C4.5 first and MDLP second is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-293
Number of pages12
JournalInformation Sciences
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Data mining
  • Discretization
  • Feature selection
  • Machine learning


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