Top 10 Common Data Mining Algorithms

Data Mining Algorithms
Data Mining Algorithms

Data Mining

It is the process of extracting meaningful patterns (non-trivial, implicit, potentially useful, previously unknown) in huge data sets. As we know, we are generating data every second in millions of gigabytes around the world. Some of the data are more useful than others, for example – suppose you are browsing through an e-commerce website, your likings of a product may have a pattern understanding which the website can produce more of information about the products you may want to buy. This understanding of patterns is basically called data mining. It is also called the process of Knowledge Discovery (KDD process).

Note: There is a vast difference between a Query and Data Mining. The query is a simple search, sort, retrieve over an existing data set whereas Data Mining is the extraction of data from historical data.

In this KDD process, there are various algorithms which are extensively scalable for huge data sets. Let us discuss some of these well-known Algorithms.

10 Well Known Data Mining Algorithms:

  • Apriori Algorithm
  • AdaBoost Algorithm
  • C4.5 Algorithm
  • Expectation-Maximisation Algorithm
  • k-means Algorithm
  • kNN Algorithm
  • Naïve Bayes Algorithm
  • CART Algorithm
  • Support Vector Machines Algorithm
  • PageRank Algorithm

Apriori Algorithm:
This algorithm uses the frequent itemsets to derive an association rule, which is used to classify items which are correlated together or predict the possibility of such association in future. Its basic concept if the subset of a frequent set may also be a frequent set of items. It is used in a database of huge transactions and finding useful patterns in such transactions.

It uses two attributes:

  • Support: Simply the ratio of the frequency of the items upon the total number of items.
  • Confidence: It is the possibility or probability of an association of two or more items in the set.
  • Lift: It is the ratio of Support of an association upon the product of supports of the items.

Let us see an example to make it clearer: Suppose in an e-commerce website a person buys a laptop, now it is more likely for the person to buy a laptop bag or a laptop cover. Hence there is an association between laptop and laptop bag now. Let’s call this a transaction and the respective buying of items as A & B.

We define in our algorithm the initial values of support and confidence i.e. filter out the associations which are less frequent. Finally, we are left with fewer correlations and hence more analysis can be done on these. Like if buying A and B together gives a discount, the person can also buy an USB stick. Hence more such associations can be analyzed now for better customer engagement.


  • Highly efficient – better time complexity.


  • High memory usage, as it runs through the whole database.

AdaBoost Algorithm

This is a boosting algorithm which is used to classify the data for various machine learning algorithms and combines them. It takes the help of decision trees (using stumps) and produces its output from a randomly generated forest. Successive use of AdaBoost produces more elegant data sets which are easier to analyze. It can combine a large number of learning algorithms and can work on a large variety of data.

The main purpose is to convert a weak learner to a strong learner assessing from a stump (a tree with one root node and two child nodes or a one-level decision tree). Now let us understand this algorithm with an example: Let there be a series of transactions of buying two products and the last product3 is predicted to be bought based on product1 and product2.

Example of one such stump is:

This is applied again and again on the transactions until a valid set of items are derived. This is called supervised learning, when one outcome produces some unorganised data set, it is then passed to other algorithm and so on until a valid data set is found.


  • Simple to implement, straight forward
  • Generally fast


  • When the decision trees are fairly large, the stumps become weaker.

C4.5 Algorithm

It is one of the best algorithms available. This algorithm works on the basis information gain while generating decision trees. It generates a classifier in the form of a decision tree and in the nodes of this tree, fills with attributes which will be best suited for the decision tree. Each such node is called a data point.

Classifier: It is data mining tool which takes set of input variables and try to classify and predict its type. The attribute with the highest normalised information gain is taken into consideration for making the decision of that class of decision tree. This repeats over each node and thus the tree goes on building up from top to bottom. In order to control discrete attributes, it splits the nodes into groups which are more than and less than a threshold value which is defined by the user. It also removes the branches which don’t help in the decision making & replace them with leaf nodes.

C4.5 uses the entropy of data as the key classifier attribute.


  • Efficient in terms of both memory and time.

Expectation Maximisation – EM Algorithm

This represents a class of iterative algorithms for finding the maximum estimation in a set of data. Simply means in a set of data, it evaluates the mathematical expectation of the data over its neighbourhood. This consists of two steps –

  • E-Step: Estimation of expectation of missing values in a set of data.
  • M-Step: Maximising the likelihood of the parameters computed in the previous step i.e. expectation.

Let us discuss this further. Let X – Labelled or Data, Y – Missing values, Z – Unknown parameters.

Note: Prerequisite of probability distribution is suggested.

Using the above formulas for estimation, the likelihood of unknown parameters is calculated. Accuracy from this can be calculated as:


  • Semi-supervised algorithm-increase of efficiency.
  • Fewer errors are due to less human intervention.


  • If the data or set of data fails to lie in any type, then this algorithm fails.

k-means Algorithm:
This is a central type clustering algorithm (grouping algorithm). The set of data is divided into groups or clusters and then the mean of these clusters is calculated in a repeated fashion until the means of the clusters are nearly equal.

These involve the following steps:

  • Taking the mean value
  • Finding the nearest number to mean
  • Inserting that means in the cluster
  • Repeating the above steps till we get the same mean


  • Simple algorithm-easier implementation
  • Faster in already clustered data set

k-NN or k-Nearest Neighbor Algorithm

This algorithm is slow learning but supervised algorithm. It also classifies items in data set in k – clusters. This process does not analyse the data while storing i.e. only analyses the data if unlabeled input is given.

This has two basic steps:

  • Finds the k nearest neighbours in the training data set.
  • Uses the above neighbour classes to classify the new sets of unlabeled inputs.

It works similar to the k-means algorithm in terms of continuous data sets, i.e. it uses Euclidean Geometry to cluster data.


  • This algorithm is computationally expensive i.e. the value of k and dataset can be huge
  • Erroneous data sets can cause large deviations
  • When the value of k is large, this process requires more storage

Naive Bayes Algorithm

This algorithm represents supervised learning using a probabilistic model based on Bayes Probability Theorem. It also finds the maximum likelihood of the event to be predicted occurring based on the trained dataset. Each attribute must be different and does not depend on another attribute. This is used to predict the class given a set of features using probability. Let us recall the Bayes Theorem of probability to understand this algorithm.

It gets a naive data set containing past outcomes and the algorithm is trained over this data set. Now, when an unlabeled data set is given input, the outcome is predicted on the basis of the trained data already present in the memory using probability of occurrence.

CART Algorithm

Classification and Regression Tree algorithm is based on decision tree architecture. It can handle both classification & regression tasks. The main formula involved in CART is:

This formula uses a metric system named Gini index as a parameter. Steps for the algorithm is briefly described as-

  • Calculating the Gini index for each attribute
  • Calculating the weighted sum of Gini indexes
  • Selecting the attribute with the lowest Gini index value
  • Repeating the above steps until the decision tree is formed

Support Vector Machines Algorithm

This algorithm is fairly similar to the C4.5 algorithms except that this does not use decision trees. It uses a hyperplane equation i.e. a straight-line equation to classify its data into two clusters or classes. It is a supervised learning algorithm. Although for complex data sets, the equation can be multidimensional. The implementation of SVM refers to the techniques of mathematical programming & kernel functions. This when extended to regression technique we use another function called ε-insensitive loss function.

PageRank Algorithm

The most common algorithm used by search engines is this PageRank Algorithm. It classifies and ranks the pages according to their importance which is derived by the importance or ranks of the pages it is linked to. It is an unsupervised algorithm. The most common variant of this algorithm is the Random Surfer Model which is described below:

In this model, the user clicks on any random page A, its rank is then calculated using:

PR (A) is the rank of page A, is the page rank of and so on.  is the number of outbound links from page A and x is the damping factor which can have a value from 0-1. This algorithm is patented by Stanford University now & extensively used by Google. Hope this content helps to enhance your knowledge and skills.

To read more about algorithms, click here.

By Aniruddha Guin