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Sources: Fawcett (2006), Powers (2011), Ting (2011), and CAWCRA receiver operating characteristic curve, or ROC curve, is a graphical plot that illustrates the diagnostic ability of a binary classifier system as its discrimination threshold is varied. A receiver operating characteristic curve, or ROC curve, is a graphical plot that illustrates the diagnostic ability of a binary classifier system as its discrimination threshold is varied. The ROC curve is created by plotting the true positive rate (TPR) against the false positive rate (FPR) at various threshold settings. The true-positive rate is also known as sensitivity, recall or probability of detection in machine learning. The false-positive rate is also known as the fall-out or probability of false alarm and can be calculated as (1 − specificity). It can also be thought of as a plot of the power as a function of the Type I Error of the decision rule (when the performance is calculated from just a sample of the population, it can be thought of as estimators of these quantities). The ROC curve is thus the sensitivity as a function of fall-out. In general, if the probability distributions for both detection and false alarm are known, the ROC curve can be generated by plotting the cumulative distribution function (area under the probability distribution from − ∞ {displaystyle -infty } to the discrimination threshold) of the detection probability in the y-axis versus the cumulative distribution function of the false-alarm probability on the x-axis. ROC analysis provides tools to select possibly optimal models and to discard suboptimal ones independently from (and prior to specifying) the cost context or the class distribution. ROC analysis is related in a direct and natural way to cost/benefit analysis of diagnostic decision making. The ROC curve was first developed by electrical engineers and radar engineers during World War II for detecting enemy objects in battlefields and was soon introduced to psychology to account for perceptual detection of stimuli. ROC analysis since then has been used in medicine, radiology, biometrics, forecasting of natural hazards, meteorology, model performance assessment, and other areas for many decades and is increasingly used in machine learning and data mining research. The ROC is also known as a relative operating characteristic curve, because it is a comparison of two operating characteristics (TPR and FPR) as the criterion changes. A classification model (classifier or diagnosis) is a mapping of instances between certain classes/groups. The classifier or diagnosis result can be a real value (continuous output), in which case the classifier boundary between classes must be determined by a threshold value (for instance, to determine whether a person has hypertension based on a blood pressure measure). Or it can be a discrete class label, indicating one of the classes. Consider a two-class prediction problem (binary classification), in which the outcomes are labeled either as positive (p) or negative (n). There are four possible outcomes from a binary classifier. If the outcome from a prediction is p and the actual value is also p, then it is called a true positive (TP); however if the actual value is n then it is said to be a false positive (FP). Conversely, a true negative (TN) has occurred when both the prediction outcome and the actual value are n, and false negative (FN) is when the prediction outcome is n while the actual value is p.

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