An evaluation of machine-learning methods for predicting pneumonia mortality

Gregory F. Cooper, Constantin F. Aliferis, Richard Ambrosino, John Aronis, Bruce G. Buchanan, Richard Caruana, Michael J. Fine, Clark Glymour, Geoffrey Gordon, Barbara H. Hanusa, Janine E. Janosky, Christopher Meek, Tom Mitchell, Thomas Richardson, Peter Spirtes

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96 Scopus citations


This paper describes the application of eight statistical and machine-learning methods to derive computer models for predicting mortality of hospital patients with pneumonia from their findings at initial presentation. The eight models were each constructed based on 9,847 patient cases and they were each evaluated on 4,352 additional cases. The primary evaluation metric was the error in predicted survival as a function of the fraction of patients predicted to survive. This metric is useful in assessing a model's potential to assist a clinician in deciding whether to treat a given patient in the hospital or at home. We examined the error rates of the models when predicting that a given fraction of patients will survive. We examined survival fractions between 0.1 and 0.6. Over this range, each model's predictive error rate was within 1% of the error rate of every other model. When predicting that approximately 30% of the patients will survive, all the models have an error rate of less than 1.5%. The models are distinguished more by the number of variables and parameters that they contain than by their error rates; these differences suggest which models may be the most amenable to future implementation as paper-based guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-138
Number of pages32
JournalArtificial Intelligence in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1997


  • Clinical databases Computer-based prediction
  • Machine learning
  • Pneumonia

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