Maximizing upgrading and downgrading margins for ordinal regression

E. Carrizosa, B. Martin-Barragan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In ordinal regression, a score function and threshold values are sought to classify a set of objects into a set of ranked classes. Classifying an individual in a class with higher (respectively lower) rank than its actual rank is called an upgrading (respectively downgrading) error. Since upgrading and downgrading errors may not have the same importance, they should be considered as two different criteria to be taken into account when measuring the quality of a classifier. In Support Vector Machines, margin maximization is used as an effective and computationally tractable surrogate of the minimization ofmisclassification errors. As an extension, we consider in this paper the maximization of upgrading and downgrading margins as a surrogate of the minimization of upgrading and downgrading errors, and we address the biobjective problem of finding a classifier maximizing simultaneously the two margins. The whole set of Pareto-optimal solutions of such biobjective problem is described as translations of the optimal solutions of a scalar optimization problem. For the most popular case in which the Euclidean norm is considered, the scalar problem has a unique solution, yielding that all the Pareto-optimal solutions of the biobjective problem are translations of each other. Hence, the Pareto-optimal solutions can easily be provided to the analyst, who, after inspection of the misclassification errors caused, should choose in a later stage the most convenient classifier. The consequence of this analysis is that it provides a theoretical foundation for a popular strategy among practitioners, based on the so-called ROC curve, which is shown here to equal the set of Pareto-optimal solutions of maximizing simultaneously the downgrading and upgrading margins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-407
Number of pages27
JournalMathematical Methods of Operations Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • Multi objective optimization
  • Support Vector Machines
  • Ordinal regression


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