Classification Visualizations with Yellowbrick

How to visualize classification model performance using Yellowbrick

Alex Fioto
5 min readOct 5, 2020

Whether we are iterating over performance models or presenting to clients, data scientists utilize visualizations regularly. While there are many visualization libraries available to us, Yellowbrick serves as a natural extension to scikit-learn’s modeling process and assists with model interpretation and tuning.

“Visualization gives you answers to questions you didn’t know you had.”

— Ben Schneiderman

This post is to serve as an introduction to Yellowbrick and display a few ways in which it can simplify the process of visualizing the results of various classification models.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

I will be using Pandas and NumPy to assist with data frame manipulation and will being using seaborn, ironically, to load in the famous penguin data frame. I will import classifiers and modules as we go for ease of interpretation. The first code block includes standard imports, reading data, and basic data cleaning.

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
import seaborn as sns
import warnings
warnings.simplefilter(action='ignore', category=FutureWarning)
# Loading in data and dropping NaNs
penguins = sns.load_dataset('penguins')
penguins = penguins.dropna()
# Mapping species of penguins to a numerical value
penguins['species'] = \
penguins['species'].replace({'Adelie': 0,
'Chinstrap': 1,
'Gentoo': 2})
# Mapping sex to a numerical value
penguins['sex'] = \
np.where(penguins['sex'] == 'Male', 1, 0)
# Binarizing 'island'
penguins = pd.get_dummies(penguins, drop_first=True)
# Viewing a sample of the data
# Creating my input variables, X and target variable, y
X = penguins.drop('species', axis=1)
y = penguins['species']
# Splitting data into training and test sets.
from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split
X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(X, y, stratify=y)
# Identifying classes. The classes variable will be useful when using Yellowbrick's visualizers
classes = ['Adelie', 'Chinstrap', 'Gentoo']

Classification Report

The classification report is a heatmap of your model’s precision, recall and f-1 score on a class basis. The class basis classification report aids in understanding multi-class problems that might be difficult to assess with a global f-1 or accuracy score. Additionally, you may set the argument support=True to view the number of actual occurrences in each class in the dataset.

from yellowbrick.classifier import ClassificationReport
from sklearn.neighbors import KNeighborsClassifier
model = KNeighborsClassifier()vizualizer = ClassificationReport(model, classes=classes, support=True), y_train)
vizualizer.score(X_test, y_test);

Confusion Matrix

Although scikit-learn has a built-in plot_confusion_matrix within its metrics library, Yellowbrick's confusion matrix has additional features that may be of benefit. The argument percent=True will display the percent of true (or the cell divided by the row total). The label_encoder argument will accept a sci-kit learn label encoder or a dictionary.

from yellowbrick.classifier import ConfusionMatrix
cm = ConfusionMatrix(
model, classes=classes,
#label_encoder={0: 'Adelie', 1: 'Chinstrap', 2: 'Gentoo'}
), y_train)
cm.score(X_test, y_test);

Class Prediction Error

The class prediction error bar graph is one of my favorites. It is a different take on a confusion matrix that is a little less confusing. The graph displays your predictions in a way that is easy to identify errors. Take the graph below for example; we can see from the first column that the model classified a sizable portion of Chinstrap penguins (green) as Adelie. Meanwhile, the Chinstraps were identified perfectly but a lot of them were incorrectly categorized. Using these new insights, one could easily detect the features causing issues and quickly address the problem.

from yellowbrick.classifier import ClassPredictionErrorvisualizer = ClassPredictionError(
model, classes=classes), y_train)
visualizer.score(X_test, y_test);

Feature Importances

Although not restricted to classification problems, the Feature Importances visualizer is a quick way to utilize scikit-learn’s feature_importances_ attribute. For regression problems where there is no feature_importances_ attribute, the visualizer will use the model's coef_ attribute. Yellowbrick's documentation suggests that you set relative=False when using a regression model to understand the true magnitude of the coefficient.

from yellowbrick.model_selection import FeatureImportances
from sklearn.ensemble import RandomForestClassifier
model = RandomForestClassifier(), y_train)
visualizer = FeatureImportances(model), y_train);


Below is a Receiver Operating Characteristic/Area Under the Curve plot, or ROC AUC, using Yellowbrick’s spam dataset for binary classification. ROC AUC is generally used for binary classification, however, Yellowbrick's ROC AUC does allow for multi-class classification. I chose to feature the spam dataset instead of our beloved penguins because it did a better job displaying the quintessential ROC AUC curve. The graph displays the ROC for each class as well as the micro and macro averages. The micro averages are computed from the sum of all true positives and false positives across all classes and the macro averages are the averages of curves across all classes. See the documentation for more information.

I appreciate the multitude of options within this visualizer. You can toggle between the different curves and have them displayed including their corresponding ROC AUC score in the legend.

from yellowbrick.classifier import ROCAUC
from yellowbrick.datasets import load_spam
from sklearn.linear_model import LogisticRegression
X, y = load_spam()X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(X, y, stratify=y)model = LogisticRegression(max_iter=10000), y_train)
visualizer = ROCAUC(model, classes=['ham', 'spam']), y_train)
visualizer.score(X_test, y_test);

Thank you for exploring a selection of Yellowbrick’s classification visualizations with me. I have been utilizing these visualizers in my own models and have found them to be convenient and informative. I plan to write another entry devoted to regression visualizations.



Alex Fioto

Data scientist and classical musician based in Raleigh, NC.