Quantitative Life Sciences (QLS) weekly interdisciplinary lecture series
Open to students, researchers and staff of the organizing partners: the Ludmer Center, Centre for Applied Mathematics in Bioscience and Medicine (CAMBAM), and the McGill initiative in Computational Medicine (MiCM)
Musings on statistical models vs. machine learning in health research
Frank Harrell, Vanderbilt University
Abstract: Health researchers and practicing clinicians are with increasing frequency hearing about machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence applications. They, along with many statisticians, are unsure of when to use traditional statistical models (SM) as opposed to ML to solve analytical problems related to diagnosis, prognosis, treatment selection, and health outcomes. And many advocates of ML do not know enough about SM to be able to appropriately compare performance of SM and ML. ML experts are particularly prone to not grasp the impact of the choice of measures of predictive performance. In this talk I attempt to define what makes ML distinct from SM, and to define the characteristics of applications for which ML is likely to offer advantages over SM, and vice-versa. The talk will also touch on the vast difference between prediction and classification and how this leads to many misunderstandings in the ML world. Other topics to be convered include the minimum sample size needed for ML, and problems ML algorithms have with absolute predictive accuracy (calibration).