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The Siren Song of High Accuracy

Holger von Jouanne-Diedrich notes that accuracy is not in itself necessarily a good thing for a machine learning model:

In one of my most popular posts So, what is AI really? I showed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) basically boils down to autonomously learned rules, i.e. conditional statements or simply, conditionals.

In this post, I create the simplest possible classifier, called ZeroR, to show that even this classifier can achieve surprisingly high values for accuracy (i.e. the ratio of correctly predicted instances)… and why this is not necessarily a good thing, so read on!

The nuanced answer here is that with classifiers, accuracy is not in itself a great measure in the case of class imbalance. The more balanced your classes are, the more likely it is that a model with high accuracy is a good model. That’s where other measures such as specificity and sensitivity, positive & negative predictive value, etc. come into play.