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Constructs a regression tree (R.W. Payne).


PRINT = string tokens Controls printed output (summary, details, indented, bracketed, labelleddiagram, numbereddiagram, graph, monitoring); default * i.e. none
Y = variate Response variate for the regression
TREE = tree Saves the tree that has been constructed
MSLIMIT = scalar Limit on the mean square of the observations at a node at which to stop making splits; default 0
NSTOP = scalar Specifies the number of observations at a node at which to stop making splits; default 1
OWNBSELECT = string token Indicates whether or not your own version of the BSELECT procedure is to be used, as explained in the Method section (yes, no); default no


X = variates or factors Independent variables available for constructing the tree
ORDERED = string tokens Whether factor levels are ordered (yes, no); default no


A regression tree is a mechanism for predicting a response variable from a set of independent variables (see Chapter 8 of Breiman et al.). The tree is constructed using data on a set of observations. Their values for the response variable are specified (in a variate) using the Y option, and their values for the independent variables are specified (in a list of variates or factors) using the X parameter. Factors may have either ordered or unordered levels, according to whether the corresponding value ORDERED parameter is set to yes or no. For example, a factor called Dose with levels 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 would usually be treated as having ordered levels, whereas levels labelled 'Morphine', 'Amidone', 'Phenadoxone' and 'Pethidine' of a factor called Drug would be regarded as unordered.

The construction process splits the observations into subsets. With an x-variate or a factor with ordered levels, the subsets are formed by taking the observations with values less then or greater than some split point p. For a factor with unordered levels, all possible ways of dividing its levels into two subsets are tried. The aim is to form subsets that have similar values for the response variate. The predicted value of the response variable for each node of the tree is the mean of its value for the subset of observations at that node. The accuracy of the node is the squared distance of the values of the response variate from their mean for the observations at the node, divided by the total number of observations. The potential splits at the node are assessed by their effect on the accuracy, that is the difference between the accuracy of the node and the sum of the accuracies of the two potential successor nodes. The node will become a terminal node if none of the splits provides any improvement in accuracy, or if the mean square of the observations at the node is less than or equal to a limit specified by the MSLIMIT option (default 0), or if the number of observations at the node is less than or equal to the number specified by the NSTOP option (default 1).

The resulting tree can be saved using the TREE option. Details of the tree can be printed as selected by the PRINT option, with settings:

    summary prints a summary of the properties of the tree;
    details gives detailed information about the nodes of the tree;
    bracketed display as used to represent an identification key in “bracketed” form (printed node by node).
    indented display as used to represent an identification key in “indented” form (printed branch by branch);
    labelleddiagram diagrammatic display including the node labels;
    numbereddiagram diagrammatic display with the nodes labelled by their numbers;
    graph plots the tree using high-resolution graphics.
    monitoring prints information monitoring the construction process.

BREGRESSION stores the information required for printing as part of the tree. For variates and ordered factors, the labels are generally formed as “identifier<p” and “identifier>p“, where p is the value chosen to partition the data for the variate concerned. Alternatively, if you have defined an “extra” text for the variate (using the EXTRA parameter of the VARIATE command), this will be used instead. The labels are then “extra-text < p” and “extra-text > p“. The style is similar for unordered factors, but here the labels involve the operators .IN. and .NI. instead of .

Generally the construction will result in over-fitting, that is it will form a tree that keeps making splits beyond the point that can be justified statistically. The solution is to prune the tree to remove the uninformative sub-branches, and this can be performed using the BPRUNE procedure. It is best, if possible, to base the pruning on an independent set of data. The pruning uses the accuracy figures, which are stored with the tree. The BRVALUES procedure can be used to calculate new accuracy (and prediction) values, from another data set.

Finally, once the tree has been pruned, the value predicted for a new set of independent values can be obtained by supplying their values to the BRPREDICT procedure. This runs the values through the tree to see which terminal node they reach. The prediction is then provided by the value predicted at that node.


Parameters: X, ORDERED.


BREGRESSION calls procedure BCONSTRUCT to form the tree. This uses a special-purpose procedure BSELECT, which is customized specifically to select splits for use in regression trees and stored with BREGRESSION. You can use your own method of selection by providing your own BSELECT and setting option OWNBSELECT=yes. In the standard version of BSELECT, the BASSESS directive is used to assess the potential splits.

Action with RESTRICT

Any restrictions on the Y or X variates are removed.


Breiman, L., Friedman, J.H., Olshen, R.A. & Stone, C.J. (1984). Classification and Regression Trees. Wadsworth, Monterey.

See also


Commands for: Regression analysis, Multivariate and cluster analysis.


CAPTION 'BREGRESSION example',!t('Water usage data (Draper & Smith 1981,',\
      'Applied Regression Analysis, Wiley, New York).'); STYLE=meta,plain
READ  temp,product,opdays,employ,water
58.8  7.107 21 129 3.067
65.2  6.373 22 141 2.828
70.9  6.796 22 153 2.891
77.4  9.208 20 166 2.994
79.3 14.792 25 193 3.082
81.0 14.564 23 189 3.898
71.9 11.964 20 175 3.502
63.9 13.526 23 186 3.060
54.5 12.656 20 190 3.211
39.5 14.119 20 187 3.286
44.5 16.691 22 195 3.542
43.6 14.571 19 206 3.125
56.0 13.619 22 198 3.022
64.7 14.575 22 192 2.922
73.0 14.556 21 191 3.950
78.9 18.573 21 200 4.488
79.4 15.618 22 200 3.295 :
"form the regression tree"
BREGRESSION [PRINT=summary,indented; Y=water; TREE=tree]\
"prune the tree"
BPRUNE      [PRINT=table,graph] tree; NEWTREES=pruned
"use tree 6 - renumber nodes"
BCUT        [RENUMBER=yes] pruned[6]; NEWTREE=tree
"display the tree"
BRDISPLAY   [PRINT=summary,indented,graph] tree
Updated on March 8, 2019

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