# What is Recall: Artificial Intelligence Explained

Author:

Published:

Updated:

Recall, in the context of artificial intelligence and machine learning, is a critical evaluation metric used to measure the effectiveness of a classification model. It is particularly useful in scenarios where the cost of False Negatives is high. The concept of recall is deeply rooted in the field of Information Retrieval and has been adapted to the machine learning domain to assess the performance of predictive models.

Recall is also known as Sensitivity, Hit Rate, or True Positive Rate. It is a measure of a model’s ability to identify all relevant instances within a dataset. In other words, it answers the question: “Of all the positive classes, how many did we correctly predict?” Understanding recall is fundamental to comprehending the dynamics of machine learning models and their applications in various fields.

## Conceptual Understanding of Recall

Recall is defined as the ratio of the total number of correctly predicted positive observations to the total actual positives. It is a measure of completeness, i.e., how much of the positive class was captured by the model’s predictions. A high recall indicates a model that is able to correctly identify a high proportion of actual positives, while a low recall signifies a high number of false negatives.

Recall is particularly important in situations where the cost of false negatives is high. For instance, in medical diagnostics, a false negative (failing to identify a disease when it is present) could have severe consequences, hence a high recall is desired. On the other hand, a model with high recall but low precision may result in many false positives, which could also be problematic depending on the context.

### Mathematical Representation of Recall

The mathematical formula for recall is: Recall = TP / (TP + FN), where TP stands for True Positives and FN stands for False Negatives. This formula clearly shows that recall is concerned with minimizing the number of false negatives. In this equation, a true positive is an outcome where the model correctly predicts the positive class, and a false negative is an outcome where the model incorrectly predicts the negative class when it was actually positive.

It is important to note that recall alone does not provide a complete picture of a model’s performance. It must be used in conjunction with other metrics such as precision and accuracy to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of a model’s predictive capabilities.

### Importance of Recall in Machine Learning

Recall is an integral part of the evaluation metrics in machine learning. It provides insights into the model’s ability to correctly identify positive instances, which is crucial in many real-world applications. For instance, in spam detection, a model with high recall is able to correctly identify most of the spam emails, reducing the risk of important emails being marked as spam.

However, recall is not the only metric that matters. Depending on the problem at hand, other metrics such as precision, accuracy, or F1 score might be more relevant. Therefore, it is essential to understand the trade-offs between these metrics and choose the most appropriate one for the task at hand.

## Recall vs Precision

Recall and precision are two fundamental concepts in machine learning that often come hand in hand. While recall measures the ability of a model to find all the relevant cases within a dataset, precision measures the proportion of the data the model says was relevant actually was relevant. In other words, precision is about being precise. If your model made 100 positive predictions, and 80 of them are correct, then the precision of your model is 80%.

There is often a trade-off between recall and precision. Improving recall can often result in a decrease in precision, and vice versa. This is known as the precision-recall trade-off. The ideal model has both high precision and high recall, but this is often not achievable in practice, and a balance must be struck between the two based on the specific requirements of the task.

The precision-recall trade-off is a fundamental concept in machine learning. It refers to the inverse relationship between precision and recall. As one increases, the other tends to decrease. This happens because increasing the threshold for classifying a positive instance increases the chance of missing a true positive (decreasing recall), but decreases the chance of falsely classifying a negative instance as positive (increasing precision).

The precision-recall trade-off is often visualized using a Precision-Recall curve, which plots precision and recall for different threshold values. The area under this curve (AUC) can be used as a single metric to compare different models. A model with a larger AUC is generally considered better.

## Recall in the Context of Imbalanced Datasets

Imbalanced datasets are a common issue in machine learning, where the number of instances of one class significantly outnumber the other. In such cases, a model might achieve a high accuracy by simply predicting the majority class, but this would not be a good model as it fails to capture the minority class, which is often the class of interest.

In such scenarios, recall becomes an important metric as it specifically focuses on the model’s ability to identify the positive (minority) class. A model with a high recall is able to correctly identify a large proportion of the positive instances, making it a valuable metric for imbalanced datasets.

### Techniques to Improve Recall in Imbalanced Datasets

There are several techniques that can be used to improve recall in imbalanced datasets. One common approach is resampling, which involves either oversampling the minority class, undersampling the majority class, or a combination of both. This helps to balance the class distribution and improve the model’s ability to identify the minority class.

Another technique is to adjust the decision threshold. By default, the decision threshold is set at 0.5, but this can be adjusted to increase the recall. Lowering the decision threshold increases the chance of predicting the positive class, thereby increasing recall. However, this also increases the chance of false positives, so a balance must be struck.

## Recall in Multi-class Classification

In multi-class classification, where there are more than two classes to predict, recall can be calculated for each class individually by treating it as a binary classification problem. The overall recall can then be calculated as the average recall across all classes. This is known as macro-average recall.

Alternatively, recall can be calculated as the total number of correctly predicted instances across all classes divided by the total number of instances. This is known as micro-average recall. The choice between macro-average and micro-average recall depends on whether you want to give equal weight to each class (macro-average) or each instance (micro-average).

### Macro-average vs Micro-average Recall

Macro-average recall calculates the recall for each class individually and then takes the average. This gives equal weight to each class, regardless of its size. Macro-average recall is a good measure when you care equally about each class, but it can be skewed by classes with particularly high or low recall.

Micro-average recall, on the other hand, calculates the total number of correctly predicted instances across all classes and divides it by the total number of instances. This gives equal weight to each instance, regardless of its class. Micro-average recall is a good measure when you care more about each instance than each class, but it can be skewed by classes with particularly large sizes.

## Conclusion

Recall is a fundamental concept in machine learning and artificial intelligence. It measures the ability of a model to identify all relevant instances within a dataset, making it a crucial metric in many real-world applications. However, recall is not the only metric that matters, and it must be used in conjunction with other metrics such as precision and accuracy to provide a comprehensive evaluation of a model’s performance.

Understanding recall and its trade-offs with other metrics is essential for anyone working in the field of machine learning or artificial intelligence. It allows for a more nuanced understanding of model performance and can guide the choice of model and the tuning of model parameters to achieve the best possible results.

## Latest posts

• ### Does Elon Musk have Asperger’s (Autism) and the role in his Unconventional Thinking

Wired for Innovation? How Asperger’s May Shape Elon Musk’s Visionary Approach