Isotonic Regression


An Isotonic Regression is a method of solving univariate regression problems by fitting a free-form line to an ordered sequence of observations such that the fitted line is non-decreasing while minimizing the distance of the fitted line from the observations.

H2O’s Isotonic Regression implements a pool adjacent violators algorithm which uses an approach to parallelizing isotonic regression [1].

MOJO Support

Isotonic Regression models can be exported as MOJOs.

Defining an Isotonic Regression Model

All parameters are optional unless specified as required.

Algorithm-specific parameters

  • out_of_bounds: Method for handling values of the X predictor that are outside of the bounds seen in training. Must be one of: clip or na (default). The default value prints “NA” for values outside of the training range.

Common parameters

  • custom_metric_func: Specify a custom evaluation function.

  • fold_assignment: (Applicable only if a value for nfolds is specified and fold_column is not specified) Specify the cross-validation fold assignment scheme. One of:

    • AUTO (default; uses Random)

    • Random

    • Modulo (read more about Modulo)

    • Stratified (which will stratify the folds based on the response variable for classification problems)

  • fold_column: Specify the column that contains the cross-validation fold index assignment per observation.

  • ignored_columns: (Optional, Python and Flow only) Specify the column or columns to be excluded from the model. In Flow, click the checkbox next to a column name to add it to the list of columns excluded from the model. To add all columns, click the All button. To remove a column from the list of ignored columns, click the X next to the column name. To remove all columns from the list of ignored columns, click the None button. To search for a specific column, type the column name in the Search field above the column list. To only show columns with a specific percentage of missing values, specify the percentage in the Only show columns with more than 0% missing values field. To change the selections for the hidden columns, use the Select Visible or Deselect Visible buttons.

  • keep_cross_validation_fold_assignment: Enable this option to preserve the cross-validation fold assignment. This option defaults to False (not enabled).

  • keep_cross_validation_models: Specify whether to keep the cross-validated models. Keeping cross-validation models may consume significantly more memory in the H2O cluster. This option defaults to True (enabled).

  • keep_cross_validation_predictions: Specify whether to keep the cross-validation predictions. This option defaults to False (not enabled).

  • model_id: Specify a custom name for the model to use as a reference. By default, H2O automatically generates a destination key.

  • nfolds: Specify the number of folds for cross-validation. This value defaults to 0 (no cross-validation).

  • training_frame: Required Specify the dataset used to build the model.

    NOTE: In Flow, if you click the Build a model button from the Parse cell, the training frame is entered automatically.

  • validation_frame: Specify the dataset used to evaluate the accuracy of the model.

  • weights_column: Specify a column to use for the observation weights, which are used for bias correction. The specified weights_column must be included in the specified training_frame.

    Python only: To use a weights column when passing an H2OFrame to x instead of a list of column names, the specified training_frame must contain the specified weights_column.

    Note: Weights are per-row observation weights and do not increase the size of the data frame. This is typically the number of times a row is repeated, but non-integer values are supported as well. During training, rows with higher weights matter more, due to the larger loss function pre-factor.

  • x: Specify the name of a single predictor variable to use when building the model. If x is missing, then all columns except y are used.

  • y: Required Specify the column to use as the dependent variable.

    • Isolation Regression will treat any input as a regression problem regardless of the type of dependent variable. For categorical variables, it will train the model on indices of the labels.


Below are simple examples showing how to use Isotonic Regression in R and Python.


N <- 100
x <- seq(N)
y <- sample(-50:50, N, replace=TRUE) + 50 * log1p(x)
train <- as.h2o(data.frame(x = x, y = y))

isotonic <- h2o.isotonicregression(x = "x", y = "y", training_frame = train)
import h2o
from h2o import H2OFrame
from h2o.estimators.isotonicregression import H2OIsotonicRegressionEstimator
from sklearn.datasets import make_regression
import numpy as np

X, y = make_regression(n_samples=10000, n_features=1, random_state=41, noise=0.8)
X = X.reshape(-1)

train = H2OFrame(np.column_stack((y, X)), column_names=["y", "X"])
h2o_iso_reg = H2OIsotonicRegressionEstimator()
h2o_iso_reg.train(training_frame=train, x="X", y="y", weights_column="w")


  1. Kearsley, A.J., Tapia, R.A., Trosset, M.W. (1996). An Approach to Parallelizing Isotonic Regression. In: Fischer, H., Riedmüller, B., Schäffler, S. (eds) Applied Mathematics and Parallel Computing. Physica-Verlag HD.