Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 39 Number 4 2022 pp. 1116-1145

Improving Imbalanced Machine Learning with Neighborhood-Informed Synthetic Sample Placement

Nasir, Murtaza, Dag, Ali, Simsek, Serhat, Ivanov, Anton, and Oztekin, Asil


Machine learning is widely used in information systems design. Yet, training algorithms on imbalanced datasets may severely affect performance on unseen data. For example, in some cases in healthcare, fintech, or cybersecurity contexts, certain subclasses are difficult to learn because they are underrepresented in training data. Our study offers a flexible and efficient solution based on a new synthetic average neighborhood sampling algorithm (SANSA), which, in contrast to other solutions, introduces a novel “placement” parameter that can be tuned to adapt to each dataset’s unique manifestation of the imbalance. This package can be downloaded for R1. We tested SANSA against seven existing sampling methods used in conjunction with the four most frequently used machine learning models trained on 14 benchmark datasets. Our results provide suggestive evidence that SANSA offers a feasible solution to the imbalance problem for most datasets. Our findings provide practical recommendations for how SANSA can be effectively implemented while reducing the complexity level of an imbalanced learning pipeline.

Key words and phrases: Imbalanced data, oversampling, undersampling, machine learning, predictive analytics, classification prediction performance, algorithm training