Check that Input Data is Complete, Balanced and Well Distributed

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Intent

Avoid invalid or incomplete data being processed.

Motivation

The data generation processes are not static. Therefore, it is necessary to continuously check that data evolution does not introduce issues in distributions, completeness and balance.

Applicability

Data quality control should be applied to any machine learning application.

Description

Besides performing sanity checks on the input data, it is recommended to constantly check for data evolution. In a continuously evolving environment, the data distribution will evolve over time. For example, your user distribution per geographical regions may change with time, and lead to future biases towards over-representative regions.

Continuously check that:

  • features are still present in enough examples,
  • features have the right number of values (cardinality) (e.g. there can not be more than one age/age derived feature),
  • hidden dependencies between data attributes are not present,
  • the input data distribution did not shift: e.g. a group is under- or over-represented.

Many machine learning algorithms use the “independent and identically distributed” assumption, which states that training and test samples are independent (i.e. changing one sample does not influence the others) and are sampled from the same distribution. In case your algorithms use this assumption, make sure to include checks between training, testing and production data to ensure no distribution drifts are present.

Building a strong data validation pipeline should also include:

  • dashboards or visual elements to continuously monitor data quality, and
  • alerts that inform team members when unusual events occur.

If your model performs close to real-time, or online learning, a strong alert system can help to detect errors early and correct them.

Adoption

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2 / 45 Data This practice was ranked as advanced.
Click to read more.