The Beauty of Random Forest

It is the time of the year when we adore Christmas trees. But these are not the only trees we, at Orange team, think about. In fact, through almost life-long professional deformation of being a data scientist, when I think about trees I would often think about classification and regression trees. And they can be beautiful as well. Not only for their elegance in explaining the hidden patterns, but aesthetically, when rendered in Orange. And even more beautiful then a single tree is Orange’s rendering of a forest, that is, a random forest.

Related: Pythagorean Trees and Forests

Here are six trees in the random forest constructed on the housing data set:

The random forest for annealing data set includes a set of smaller-sized trees:

A Christmas-lit random forest inferred from pen digits data set looks somehow messy in trying to categorize to ten different classes:

The power of beauty! No wonder random forests are one of the best machine learning tools. Orange renders them according to the idea of Fabian Beck and colleagues who proposed Pythagoras trees for visualizations of hierarchies. The actual implementation for classification and regression trees for Orange was created by Pavlin Policar.

Dimensionality Reduction by Manifold Learning

The new Orange release (v. 3.3.9) welcomed a few wonderful additions to its widget family, including Manifold Learning widget. The widget reduces the dimensionality of the high-dimensional data and is thus wonderful in combination with visualization widgets.

Manifold Learning widget has a simple interface with powerful features.


Manifold Learning widget offers five embedding techniques based on scikit-learn library: t-SNE, MDS, Isomap, Locally Linear Embedding and Spectral Embedding. They each handle the mapping differently and also have a specific set of parameters.

Related: Principal Component Analysis (video)

For example, a popular t-SNE requires only a metric (e.g. cosine distance). In the demonstration of this widget, we output 2 components, since they are the easiest to visualize and make sense of.

First, let’s load the data and open it in Scatter Plot. Not a very informative visualization, right? The dots from an unrecognizable square in 2D.

S-curve data in Scatter Plot. Data points form an uninformative square.


Let’s use embeddings to make things a bit more informative. This is how the data looks like with a t-SNE embedding. The data is starting to have a shape and the data points colored according to regression class reveal a beautiful gradient.

t-SNE embedding shows an S shape of the data.


Ok, how about MDS? This is beyond our expectations!



There’s a plethora of options with embeddings. You can play around with ImageNet embeddings and plot them in 2D or use any of your own high-dimensional data and discover interesting visualizations! Although t-SNE is nowadays probably the most popular dimensionality reduction technique used in combination with scatterplot visualization, do not underestimate the value of other manifold learning techniques. For one, we often find that MDS works fine as well.


Go, experiment!

Pythagorean Trees and Forests

Classification Trees are great, but how about when they overgrow even your 27” screen? Can we make the tree fit snugly onto the screen and still tell the whole story? Well, yes we can.

Pythagorean Tree widget will show you the same information as Classification Tree, but way more concisely. Pythagorean Trees represent nodes with squares whose size is proportionate to the number of covered training instances. Once the data is split into two subsets, the corresponding new squares form a right triangle on top of the parent square. Hence Pythagorean Tree. Every square has the color of the prevalent, with opacity indicating the relative proportion of the majority class in the subset. Details are shown in hover balloons.

Classification Tree with data set.


Pythagorean Tree with data set.


When you hover over a square in Pythagorean Tree, a whole line of parent and child squares/nodes is highlighted. Clicking on a square/node outputs the selected subset, just like in Classification Tree.

Upon hovering on the square in the tree, the lineage (parent and child nodes) is highlighted. Hover also displays information on the subset, represented by the square. The widget outputs the selected subset.


Another amazing addition to Orange’s Visualization set is Pythagorean Forest, which is a visualization of Random Forest algorithm. Random Forest takes N samples from a data set with N instances, but with replacement. Then a tree is grown for each sample, which alleviates the Classification Tree’s tendency to overfit the data. Pythagorean Forest is a concise visualization of Random Forest, with each Pythagorean Tree plotted side by side.

Different trees are grown side by side. Parameters for the algorithm are set in Random Forest widget, then the whole forest is sent to Pythagorean Forest for visualization.


This makes Pythagorean Forest a great tool to explain how Random Forest works or to further explore each tree in Pythagorean Tree widget.


Pythagorean trees are a new addition to Orange. Their implementation has been inspired by a recent paper on Generalized Pythagoras Trees for Visualizing Hierarchies by Fabian Beck, Michael Burch, Tanja Munz, Lorenzo Di Silvestro and Daniel Weiskopf that was presented in at the 5th International Conference on Information Visualization Theory and Applications in 2014.

All I See is Silhouette

Silhouette plot is such a nice method for visually assessing cluster quality and the degree of cluster membership that we simply couldn’t wait to get it into Orange3. And now we did.

What this visualization displays is the average distance between instances within the cluster and instances in the nearest cluster. For a given data instance, the silhouette close to 1 indicates that the data instance is close to the center of the cluster. Instances with silhouette scores close to 0 are on the border between two clusters. Overall, the quality of the clustering could be assessed by the average silhouette scores of the data instances. But here, we are more interested in the individual silhouettes and their visualization in the silhouette plot.

Using the good old iris data set, we are going to assess the silhouettes for each of the data instances. In k-means we set the number of clusters to 3 and send the data to Silhouette plot. Good clusters should include instances with higher silhouette scores. But we’re doing the opposite. In Orange, we are selecting instances with scores close to 0 from the silhouette plot and pass them to other widgets for exploration. No surprise, they are at the periphery of two clusters. This is so perfectly demonstrated in the scatter plot.


Let’s do something wild now. We’ll use the silhouette on a class attribute of Iris (no clustering here, just using the original class values from the data set). Here is our hypothesis: the data instances with low silhouette values are also those that will be misclassified by some learning algorithm. Say, by a random forest.


We will use ten-fold cross validation in Test&Score, send the evaluation results to confusion matrix and select misclassified instances in the widget. Then we will explore the inclusion of these misclassifications in the set of low-silhouette instances in the Venn diagram. The agreement (i.e. the intersection in Venn) between the two techniques is quite high.


Finally, we can observe these instances in the Scatter Plot. Classifiers indeed have problems with borderline data instances. Our hypothesis was correct.


Silhouette plot is yet another one of the great visualizations that can help you with data analysis or with understanding certain machine learning concepts. What did we say? Fruitful and fun!



Color it!

Holiday season is upon us and even the Orange team is in a festive mood. This is why we made a Color widget!


This fascinating artsy widget will allow you to play with your data set in a new and exciting way. No more dull visualizations and default color schemes! Set your own colors the way YOU want it to! Care for some magical cyan-to-magenta? Or do you prefer a more festive red-to-green? How about several shades of gray? Color widget is your go-to stop for all things color (did you notice it’s our only widget with a colorful icon?). 🙂

Coloring works with most visualization widgets, such as scatter plot, distributions, box plot, mosaic display and linear projection. Set the colors for discrete values and gradients for continuous values in this widget, and the same palletes will be used in all downstream widgets. As a bonus, the Color widget also allows you to edit the names of variables and values.


Remember – the (blue) sky is the limit.

Mining our own data

Recently we’ve made a short survey that was, upon Orange download, asking people how they found out about Orange, what was their data mining level and where do they work. The main purpose of this is to get a better insight into our user base and to figure out what is the profile of people interested in trying Orange.

Here we have some preliminary results that we’ve managed to gather in the past three weeks or so. Obviously we will use Orange to help us make sense of the data.


We’ve downloaded our data from Typeform and appended some background information such as OS and browser. Let’s see what we’ve got in the Data Table widget.



Ok, this is our entire data table. Here we also have the data on people who completed the survey and who didn’t. First, let’s organize the data properly. We’ll do this with Select Columns widget.



We removed all the meta attributes as they are not very relevant for our analysis. Next we moved the ‘completed’ attribute into target variable, thus making it our class variable.



Now we would like to see some basic distributions from our data.



Interesting. Most of our users are working on Windows, a few on Mac and very few on Linux.

Let’s investigate further. Now we want to know more about those people who actually completed the survey. Let’s use Select Columns again, this time removing os_type, os_name, agent_name and completed from our data and keeping just the answers. We made “Where do you work?” our class variable, but we could use either one of the three. Another trick is to set in directly in Distributions widget under ‘Group by’.



Ok, let’s again use Distributions – this is such a simple way to get a good sense of your data.



Obviously out of those who found out about Orange in college, most are students, but what’s interesting here is that there are so many. We can also see that out of those who found us on the web, most come from the private sector, followed by academia and researchers. Good. How about the other question?



Again, results are not particularly shocking, but it’s great to confirm your hypothesis with real data. Out of beginner level data miners, most are students, while most intermediate users come from the industry.

A quick look at the Mosaic Display will give us a good overview:



Yup, this sums it up quite nicely. We have lots of beginner levels users and not many expert ones (height of the box). Also most people found out about Orange on the web or in college (width of the box). A thin line on the left shows apriori distribution, thus making it easier to compare expected and actual number of instances. For example, there should be at least some people who are students and have found out about Orange at a conference. But there aren’t – a contrast between how much red there should be in the box (line on the left) and how much there actually is (bigger part of the box) is quite telling. We can even select all the beginner level users who found out about Orange in college and further inspect the data, but be it enough for now.

Our final workflow:




Obviously, this is a very simple analysis. But even such simple tasks are never boring with good visualization tools such as Distributions and Mosaic Display. You could also use Venn Diagram to find common features of selected subsets or perhaps Sieve Diagram for probabilities.


We are very happy to get these data and we would like to thank everyone who completed the survey. If you wish to help us further, please fill out a longer survey that won’t actually take you more than 3 minutes of your time (we timed it!).


Happy Friday everyone!

Save your graphs!

If you are often working with Orange, you probably have noticed a small button at the bottom of most visualization widgets. “Save Graph” now enables you to export graphs, charts, and hierarchical trees to your computer and use them in your reports. Because people need to see it to believe it!

“Save Graph” will save visualizations to your computer.


Save Graph function is available in Paint Data, Image Viewer, all visualization widgets, and a few others (list is below).

Widgets with the “Save Graph” option.


You can save visualizations in .png, .dot or .svg format. However – brace yourselves – our team is working on something even better, which will be announced in the following weeks.

Scatter Plot Projection Rank

One of the nicest and surely most useful visualization widgets in Orange is Scatter Plot. The widget displays a 2-D plot, where x and y-axes are two attributes from the data.

2-dimensional scatter plot visualization
2-dimensional scatter plot visualization


Orange 2.7 has a wonderful functionality called VizRank, that is now implemented also in Orange 3. Rank Projections functionality enables you to find interesting attribute pairs by scoring their average classification accuracy. Click ‘Start Evaluation’ to begin ranking.

Rank Projections before ranking is performed.
Rank Projections before ranking is performed.


The functionality will also instantly adapt the visualization to the best scored pair. Select other pairs from the list to compare visualizations.

Rank Projections once the attribute pairs are scored.
Rank Projections once the attribute pairs are scored.


Rank suggested petal length and petal width as the best pair and indeed, the visualization below is much clearer (better separated).

Scatter Plot once the visualization is optimized.
Scatter Plot once the visualization is optimized.


Have fun trying out this and other visualization widgets!

Visualizing Misclassifications

In data mining classification is one of the key methods for making predictions and gaining important information from our data. We would, for example, use classification for predicting which patients are likely to have the disease based on a given set of symptoms.

In Orange an easy way to classify your data is to select several classification widgets (e.g. Naive Bayes, Classification Tree and Linear Regression), compare the prediction quality of each learner with Test Learners and Confusion Matrix and then use the best performing classifier on a new data set for classification. Below we use Iris data set for simplicity, but the same procedure works just as well on all kinds of data sets.

Here we have three confusion matrices for Naive Bayes (top), Classification Tree (middle) and Logistic Regression (bottom).


Three misclassification matrices (Naive Bayes, Classification Tree and Logistic Regression)
Three misclassification matrices (Naive Bayes, Classification Tree and Logistic Regression)


We see that Classification Tree did the best with only 9 misclassified instances. To see which instances were assigned a false class, we select ‘Misclassified’ option in the widget, which highlights misclassifications and feeds them to the Scatter Plot widget. In the graph we thus see the entire data set presented with empty dots and the selected misclassifications with full dots.

Visualization of misclassified instances in scatter plot.
Visualization of misclassified instances in scatter plot.


Feel free to switch between learners in Confusion Matrix to see how the visualization changes for each of them.


Explorative data analysis with Hierarchical Clustering

Today we will write about cluster analysis with Hierarchical Clustering widget. We use a well-known Iris data set, which contains 150 Iris flowers, each belonging to one of the three species (setosa, versicolor and virginica). To an untrained eye the three species are very alike, so how could we best tell them apart? The data set contains measurements of sepal and petal dimensions (width and length) and we assume that these gives rise to interesting clustering. But is this so?

Hierarchical Clustering workflow
Hierarchical Clustering workflow


To find clusters, we feed the data from the File widget to Distances and then into Hierarchical Clustering. The last widget in our workflow visualizes hierarchical clustering dendrogram. In the dendrogram, let us annotate the branches with the corresponding Iris species (Annotation = Iris). We see that not all the clusters are composed of the same actual class – there are some mixed clusters with both virginicas and versicolors.

Selected clusters in Hierarchical Clustering widget
Selected clusters in Hierarchical Clustering widget


To see these clusters, we select them in Hierarchical Clustering widget by clicking on a branch. Selected data will be fed into the output of this widget. Let us inspect the data we have selected by adding Scatter Plot and PCA widgets. If we draw a Data Table directly from Hierarchical Clustering, we see the selected instances and the clusters they belong to. But if we first add the PCA widget, which decomposes the data into principal components, and then connect it to Scatter Plot, we will see the selected instances in the adjusted scatter plot (where principal components are used for x and y-axis).



Select other clusters in Hierarchical Clustering widget to see how the scatter plot visualization changes. This allows for an interesting explorative data analysis through a combination of widgets for unsupervised learning and visualizations.