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Methods for Evaluating ML Models: Precision in Action

November 22, 2023
min read

It's no secret: getting a machine learning model up and running is a Herculean task. As Chris Chapo, SVP of Data and Analytics at Gap, points out, 87% of these models need to see the light of production. But the journey has only just begun for the elite 13% that do.

Model evaluation in machine learning stands as the unsung hero, ensuring that these models don’t just run but run correctly. As businesses increasingly rely on ML insights, rigorous evaluation ensures these models are functional and dependable. After all, in the high-stakes world of ML, trust is earned through consistent and verifiable results.

This article will discuss effective model evaluation metrics and methods in machine learning.

What Is Model Evaluation?

Model evaluation is the gatekeeper of certainty for businesses in tech landscapes, where every decision can influence market dynamics. Fundamentally, model evaluation in machine learning is a systematic, metrics-driven approach to discern a model’s proficiency.


Whether a post-training evaluation model or real-time model validation in a live environment, these techniques ensure your models are up and running and deliver accurate, trustworthy predictions.

This evaluation can unfold in two distinct settings:

  • Offline – where models, after training, undergo scrutiny during experimentation or continuous retraining phases.
  • Online – enabling an in-production assessment is integral to model monitoring.

The metrics palette for this evaluation varies depending on the nature of the data, the chosen algorithm, and the specific use case. For instance, in supervised learning, you have classification metrics rooted in the confusion matrix—accuracy, precision, and recall, to name a few.

Conversely, regression analyses lean on error metrics like mean absolute error (MAE) or root mean squared errors (RMSE).

Why Is Model Evaluation Important?

Data Governance Framework

At its core, model evaluation in machine learning is the checkpoint that ensures a model's optimal and reliable performance. But that’s not all. So why does model evaluation in machine learning carry such weight? Other benefits include:

  • Optimal Performance: It guarantees that the productized model is the best version, often measured against other trained models. This ensures that your model isn't just working but is working at its peak potential.
  • Reliability in Action: Reliable models behave predictably, consistently transforming inputs to outputs. Through tools like feature contribution, counterfactual analysis, and fairness tests, model evaluation cements this reliability.
  • Risk Mitigation: An unchecked model, such as real-time trading or supply chain predictions, can wreak havoc in high-stakes companies. Proper evaluation mitigates this, safeguarding both user experience and financial outcomes.
  • Stakeholder Alignment: A thoroughly evaluated model aligns expectations across the board. When all stakeholders—from developers to top-tier management—understand a model's potential and limitations, it streamlines development and decision-making processes.
  • Futureproofing: Model evaluation is not a one-off. It's a consistent check that ensures models adapt and evolve with changing data dynamics. This ensures longevity and relevance.

3 Model Governance Use Cases You Must Know

Machine learning isn't just about algorithms and data; it's about harnessing power that propels businesses forward. Here's the scoop on three model governance use cases that can reshape the trajectory of your business:

  • Optimized Supply Chain Predictions: With precise evaluation in machine learning, companies can forecast supply chain disruptions, ensuring seamless operations.
  • Real-time Financial Analysis: Real-time decisions are the cornerstone for sectors like banking or trading. Rigorous model training and evaluation ensure that predictive financial models are swift and accurate, mitigating potential losses.
  • Customized Client Interactions: In the age of personalization, understanding client needs is paramount. Through thorough machine learning prediction and model evaluation techniques, companies can curate tailor-made experiences, solidifying client relationships and boosting retention.

Top 4 Model Evaluation Methods

Model evaluation methods are the keystones that fine-tune machine learning models. Let’s discover the top four methods of reshaping data-driven decision-making in the business world.

1. Holdout Method

This model evaluation technique involves splitting your dataset into training and test sets. For instance, an enterprise SaaS company might use 70% of its user data to train an ML model predicting churn and the remaining 30% to test its accuracy. It's straightforward and fast and ensures model validation in real-world scenarios. However, its efficacy can sometimes hinge on how the data is split, requiring caution.

2. Cross-Validation

Instead of relying on a single train-test split, cross-validation divides the dataset multiple times, offering different training and test sets. Consider a B2B e-commerce platform optimizing its recommendation system. Using cross-validation, it could train and test its model on varied data subsets, enhancing prediction accuracy across diverse product categories. This iterative process minimizes biases, making the model robust and versatile.

3. Bootstrapping

It is a statistical method that involves sampling data with replacement, allowing for repeated evaluations using different data samples. For instance, a supply chain management system might use bootstrapping to repeatedly test shipment data, assessing model performance across various scenarios. It empowers businesses to understand model stability and reliability, ensuring the machine learning prediction isn't a mere fluke but a replicable outcome.

4. Ensemble Methods

Why not rally an entire team when one machine-learning model doesn't deliver the desired punch? Ensemble methods combine multiple models to make predictions, often leading to more accurate and stable results. Imagine a B2B financial firm assessing credit risks. Instead of relying on a single prediction model, it could aggregate insights from multiple models, refining its risk assessment. It offers a holistic perspective, driving decisions that resonate with multifaceted business realities.

4 Main Model Classification Evaluation Metrics

Here are four essential classification metrics to ensure your machine-learning models remain steadfast and accurate in their endeavors:

  1. Accuracy: It represents the fraction of predictions our model got right. For instance, a B2B sales forecasting tool boasting 95% accuracy correctly predicts sales outcomes 95 times out of 100.
  2. Precision and Recall: Precision measures the number of true positives out of the predicted positives. Recall, on the other hand, gauges the number of true positives identified correctly. Imagine a system that screens job applicants for a tech firm. High precision means few unqualified candidates slip through, while high recall ensures most qualified candidates are identified.
  3. F1 Score: Harmonizing precision and recall, the F1 Score is the harmonic mean of both metrics. For instance, in a B2B setting, consider a fraud detection system for a finance firm. An optimal F1 score minimizes false alarms (precision) and missed frauds (recall).
  4. Area Under the ROC Curve (AUC-ROC): This metric assesses a model's ability to distinguish between the classes. Higher AUC indicates better model performance. Take, for instance, a B2B marketing tool evaluating potential leads. A high AUC-ROC value indicates the device adeptly classifies hot leads from cold ones, ensuring marketing resources are better allocated.

Machine Learning Model Selection: Choosing The Right One For Your Company

The journey to optimal model evaluation in machine learning is intertwined with business objectives. Here's how you can ensure you're choosing the right model evaluation method and metric:

  1. Understand Your Business Objective: Before diving into metrics, clarify your business goal. A financial institution detecting fraud will have different requirements than a sales team forecasting quarterly revenue.
  2. Determine the Type of Problem: Is it regression, classification, or clustering? Regression metrics would be more apt for a company using machine learning to predict sales numbers, whereas for lead categorization, classification metrics are the go-to.
  3. Evaluate Data Distribution: Accuracy might not be the best metric if your dataset is imbalanced. For example, an email campaign tool must consider the rare but significant 'conversion' class more than the 'non-conversion' class.
  4. Consider the Costs of Errors: Sometimes, false positives and negatives have different implications. For instance, a product defect detection system might prioritize recall over precision to ensure no faulty products go unnoticed.
  5. Iterative Testing: Model evaluation isn't a one-time affair. Regularly test and validate using techniques like cross-validation or bootstrapping. The continuous assessment ensures the recommendation engine, for instance, remains relevant as market dynamics shift.

Final Thoughts

Harnessing the power of machine learning demands more than just training models; it requires precision. It's not just about data; it's about making data work effectively, ensuring every decision propels a business forward. The journey from model training to real-world impact hinges on meticulous evaluation—so make it count.

With MarkovML, ensure your models aren't just part of the 87% of models that never reach deployment. Turn insights into action, accelerate your AI journey, and experience the power of intelligent data management. Whether you're keen to gain deep data insights or eager to collaborate seamlessly on AI projects, MarkovML is your go-to platform.

Discover MarkovML Today.


1. How to increase the accuracy of a machine learning model?

To bolster machine learning accuracy, consider gathering more diverse data, employing feature engineering, or tuning hyperparameters. For companies, understanding industry-specific nuances can guide data augmentation, ensuring that models grasp real-world complexities.

2. How do I choose the most suitable evaluation metric for my ML model?

The choice hinges on your business objectives. If false positives are costly for your company, precision becomes paramount. For balanced datasets, accuracy suffices; however, the F1 score or AUC-ROC might be more revealing for imbalanced ones. Always align metrics with real-world implications.

3. Why is the AUC-ROC metric important in machine learning evaluation?

AUC-ROC gauges a model's true positive rate against its false positive rate, which is crucial for understanding its discriminative power. For companies where decision thresholds vary, it offers a holistic view, ensuring you don't miss valuable opportunities or make costly mistakes.

4. Can you provide some real-life examples of ML model evaluation?

Absolutely! A SaaS company might employ precision to avoid false alerts in anomaly detection. A supply chain firm might utilize the AUC-ROC to balance missed deliveries (false negatives) against unnecessary truck dispatches (false positives). Model evaluation aligns algorithms with actionable insights.

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