Published At Last Updated At
no image found
Ameya Potdarbagging-machine-learningauthor linkedin

What is Bagging in Machine Learning? And How to Execute It?


In the dynamic landscape of machine learning, there exists a powerful technique known as bagging that has revolutionised model performance. Understanding what bagging entails and how to execute it can significantly enhance the accuracy and robustness of machine learning models. Let's delve into the intricacies of bagging and explore how to implement it effectively.

Bagging, often referred to as Bootstrap aggregating, stands out as a valuable ensemble learning approach in the realm of machine learning. Its primary objective is to enhance the effectiveness and precision of machine learning algorithms. By addressing the inherent trade-offs between bias and variance, bagging plays a crucial role in minimizing the variance of predictive models. Notably, this technique effectively mitigates the risk of overfitting while catering to both regression and classification tasks, particularly proving advantageous in decision tree algorithms.

Bootstrapping involves generating random samples from a dataset with replacement, a method used to estimate population parameters. By creating these samples, researchers can gain insights into the characteristics of the population without needing to rely solely on the entire dataset. Bagging, referred to as bootstrap aggregation, represents a prevalent ensemble learning approach aimed at diminishing variance in datasets prone to noise.

Within bagging, a training set undergoes a process where random samples are drawn with replacement, allowing for the potential selection of individual data points multiple times. These diverse samples are then utilized to train independent weak models. Subsequently, depending on the nature of the task, such as regression or classification, the collective predictions are aggregated, either through averaging or majority voting, to produce a more precise estimation. It's worth noting that the random forest algorithm extends the principles of bagging, incorporating both bagging and feature randomness to construct a collection of decision trees with reduced correlation.

Bagging in machine learning, short for Bootstrap Aggregating, is a powerful ensemble learning technique aimed at improving model accuracy and robustness. It involves training multiple models on different subsets of the training data using bootstrapping, and then aggregating their predictions to make a final prediction. By harnessing the wisdom of diverse models and reducing variance, bagging enhances predictive performance, making it a valuable tool in the machine learning arsenal.

Ensemble learning embodies the concept of harnessing the collective intelligence of multiple models, akin to the notion of the "wisdom of crowds." Instead of relying solely on an individual expert, ensemble methods involve a group of base learners or models working collaboratively to enhance the final prediction's accuracy. Individually, a single model, also known as a base or weak learner, may struggle due to either high variance or high bias. However, when these weak learners are combined, their collective efforts can form a robust learner, effectively mitigating bias or variance issues and leading to improved model performance.

Commonly illustrated with decision trees, this algorithm can exhibit tendencies towards overfitting or underfitting. Overfitting occurs when the model captures noise in the training data, resulting in high variance and low bias, while underfitting indicates insufficient complexity to capture the underlying patterns, leading to low variance and high bias.

To address these challenges and ensure better generalization to new datasets, ensemble methods are employed. By aggregating the predictions of multiple models, ensemble techniques counteract overfitting or underfitting tendencies, allowing the model to generalize effectively to unseen data. Although decision trees are often cited for their variance or bias issues, it's important to note that other modeling techniques also utilize ensemble learning to strike the optimal balance between bias and variance.

Understanding the Bagging Process:

Bagging, short for Bootstrap Aggregating, involves several key steps. First, data is sampled with replacement using bootstrap sampling, creating multiple diverse subsets. Next, individual models are trained on these subsets, capturing different perspectives of the data. Finally, predictions from these models are aggregated, typically through averaging for regression or voting for classification, to produce a final output.

Bootstrapping serves as a fundamental component in the bagging process, facilitating the creation of diverse samples for training. Through bootstrapping, subsets of the training dataset are generated by randomly selecting data points with replacement. This resampling technique allows for the possibility of selecting the same data instance multiple times within a sample, contributing to the diversity of the generated subsets.

Subsequently, these bootstrapped samples are trained independently and concurrently, utilizing weak or base learners. This parallel training approach enables efficient utilization of computational resources and accelerates the model training process. Upon completion of training, the predictions from the individual classifiers are aggregated to yield a more accurate estimate, tailored to the specific task at hand. For regression tasks, the average of the predicted outputs from all classifiers, known as soft voting, is computed. Conversely, in classification scenarios, the class with the highest majority of votes, determined through hard voting or majority voting, is considered the final prediction.

image representation of bagging algorithm process

Advantages of Bagging:

  • Bagging offers several advantages that contribute to improved model performance. By reducing variance and overfitting, it enhances the model's ability to generalize to unseen data. Additionally, bagging increases model robustness by mitigating the impact of outliers and noisy data. These advantages make bagging particularly valuable in complex machine learning tasks.

  • The ease of implementing bagging techniques is facilitated by Python libraries like scikit-learn, commonly known as sklearn. These libraries provide intuitive functionalities for integrating the predictions of base learners or estimators, thereby enhancing model performance. Detailed documentation outlines the diverse modules available for model optimization, offering users comprehensive guidance in leveraging these tools effectively.

  • Furthermore, bagging contributes to the reduction of variance within learning algorithms. This is especially advantageous in scenarios involving high-dimensional data, where the presence of missing values can amplify variance, exacerbating the risk of overfitting. By mitigating variance, bagging fosters more robust model performance and facilitates accurate generalization to new datasets.

  • Interpretability can be compromised in bagging due to the inherent averaging across predictions, making it challenging to derive precise business insights. While the aggregated output offers increased precision compared to individual data points, achieving a similar level of precision within a single classification or regression model may require a more accurate or comprehensive dataset.

  • Moreover, the computational expense of bagging grows with an increase in the number of iterations, rendering it unsuitable for real-time applications. For efficient processing, clustered systems or a substantial number of processing cores are recommended, particularly when dealing with large test sets.

  • Furthermore, bagging exhibits less flexibility, being most effective with algorithms characterized by instability. Conversely, algorithms with higher stability or substantial bias may not derive significant benefit from bagging due to limited variation within the dataset. For instance, bagging a linear regression model may simply yield the original predictions when the model exhibits substantial stability, as observed in practical applications of machine learning.

Disadvantage of Bagging:

  • Increased Computational Complexity: Bagging involves training multiple models on different subsets of data, which can significantly increase computational resources and time required for model training, especially for large datasets.

  • Lack of Interpret-ability: As bagging combines predictions from multiple models, interpreting the final model's decision-making process becomes challenging. It can be difficult to understand the underlying rationale behind the ensemble's predictions, limiting the model's interpret-ability.

  • Memory Usage: Generating multiple bootstrapped samples and storing multiple models in memory can lead to increased memory usage, particularly for large datasets or when training a large number of models.

  • Potential Over-fitting: Although bagging helps reduce variance and over-fitting in individual models, there's still a risk of over-fitting in the ensemble, particularly if the base models are too complex or if the dataset is noisy.

  • Limited Improvement for Stable Models: Bagging tends to provide significant performance improvements for unstable or high-variance models. However, if the base model is already stable and has low variance, the benefits of bagging may be marginal.

  • Memory Usage: Generating multiple bootstrapped samples and storing multiple models in memory can lead to increased memory usage, particularly for large datasets or when training a large number of models.

  • Loss of Diversity: In some cases, if the base models are too similar or if the dataset lacks diversity, bagging may not provide significant improvements in model performance. Ensuring diversity among base models is crucial for the success of bagging.

  • Dependency on Base Model Performance: Bagging relies on the performance of the base models. If the base models are weak or biased, the overall performance of the bagged ensemble may suffer.

  • Sensitivity to Hyper parameters: Bagging algorithms often have hyper parameters that need to be tuned, such as the number of base models or the size of the bootstrapped samples. Finding the optimal hyperparameters can be time-consuming and requires careful experimentation.

Steps Involving Bagging

Let's consider a scenario where we have a dataset with n data points and m features. Here's how the process unfolds when using a specific technique for model creation:

1. Data Sampling: From the training dataset, a random sample is drawn without replacement, ensuring that each data point is selected only once.

2. Feature Selection: A subset of m features is randomly chosen to build a model using the sampled observations. This random selection promotes diversity in the models generated.

3. Node Splitting: Among the selected features, the one that provides the most effective split is identified, determining how the nodes of the decision tree are split.

4. Tree Growth: With the optimal split identified, the decision tree is expanded, establishing the best root nodes for subsequent predictions.

5. Iterative Process: The aforementioned steps are repeated n times, each iteration resulting in the creation of a new decision tree with unique splits and nodes.

6. Aggregation of Predictions: Finally, the output of each individual decision tree is aggregated to produce the best prediction, leveraging the collective insights of the ensemble.This iterative approach, known for its variance-reducing capabilities, is particularly effective in scenarios where decision trees are utilised for predictive modelling.

Examples of Bagging Algorithms:

  • Random Forest: One of the most popular bagging algorithms is Random Forest, which constructs an ensemble of decision trees trained on bootstrapped samples. Another example is Bagged Decision Trees, where individual decision trees are trained on bootstrapped samples and combined through averaging. These algorithms showcase the versatility and effectiveness of bagging in various machine learning applications.

  • Bagged Decision Trees: This is a straightforward implementation where multiple decision trees are trained on bootstrapped samples of the dataset and their predictions are aggregated. Unlike Random Forest, each decision tree is built using the same set of features, without feature randomness.

  • Bagged SVM (Support Vector Machines): Support Vector Machines can also benefit from bagging. Multiple SVM models are trained on bootstrapped samples of the dataset, and their predictions are combined through averaging or voting to make the final prediction.

  • Bagged Neural Networks: Neural networks can be integrated into bagging by training multiple neural network models on bootstrapped samples. Each neural network may have different architectures or initialisation, contributing to the diversity of predictions.

  • Bagged k-NN (k-Nearest Neighbours): In this approach, multiple k-NN models are trained on bootstrapped samples of the dataset. Predictions from these models are combined using averaging or voting to provide a more robust prediction.

  • Bagged Gradient Boosting Machines (GBMs): GBMs can also benefit from bagging. Multiple GBM models are trained on bootstrapped samples, and their predictions are combined to provide a final prediction. This approach can further enhance the robustness of the GBM algorithm.

Executing Bagging in Practice:

Implementing bagging in practice involves leveraging machine learning libraries such as scikit-learn in Python. By utilizing built-in functions and classes, developers can easily execute bagging techniques in their projects. Additionally, experimenting with hyperparameters and ensemble configurations can further optimize model performance.

1from sklearn.datasets import load_iris
2from sklearn.model_selection import train_test_split
3from sklearn.ensemble import BaggingClassifier
4from sklearn.tree import DecisionTreeClassifier
5from sklearn.metrics import accuracy_score
7iris = load_iris()
8X =
9y =
11X_train, X_test, y_train, y_test = train_test_split(X, y, test_size=0.2, random_state=42)
13base_model = DecisionTreeClassifier(random_state=42)
15bagging_model = BaggingClassifier(base_model, n_estimators=10, random_state=42)
16, y_train)
19y_pred = bagging_model.predict(X_test)
21accuracy = accuracy_score(y_test, y_pred)
23print("Accuracy of Bagging Classifier:", accuracy)

Applications of Bagging:

Bagging finds widespread application across various industries, offering valuable insights and enhancing decision-making processes in diverse domains. Some additional applications of bagging include:

1. E-commerce: Bagging techniques can be employed in e-commerce platforms to improve recommendation systems. By combining predictions from multiple models trained on different subsets of customer data, personalised recommendations can be generated more accurately, leading to enhanced user experience and increased sales.

2. Manufacturing: In the manufacturing sector, bagging can be utilised for predictive maintenance purposes. By analysing historical sensor data from machinery and equipment, bagging algorithms can predict potential equipment failures or maintenance needs, allowing for proactive maintenance scheduling and minimising costly downtime.

3. Marketing: Bagging techniques can be leveraged in marketing campaigns to optimise customer targeting and segmentation. By aggregating predictions from ensemble models trained on diverse customer demographics and behavioural data, marketers can tailor their campaigns more effectively, increasing conversion rates and maximising return on investment.

4. Energy: In the energy sector, bagging can be applied to improve forecasting accuracy for renewable energy generation. By combining predictions from multiple weather forecasting models trained on different meteorological datasets, energy providers can better anticipate fluctuations in renewable energy output, optimising grid management and ensuring reliable supply.

5. Telecommunications: Bagging methods can be utilised in telecommunications for network optimisation and fault detection. By aggregating predictions from ensemble models trained on network performance data, telecom operators can identify potential network issues or anomalies more accurately, improving service reliability and customer satisfaction.

These applications demonstrate the versatility of bagging techniques across various industries, showcasing their effectiveness in addressing complex problems and driving innovation in decision-making processes.

Additional Information




Bagging fosters diversity among base models by training them on different subsets of the training data, reducing the risk of over-fitting and improving generalisation.

Outlier Robustness

Bagging can improve the robustness of models to outliers in the data by reducing the influence of individual observations through the averaging of predictions.


Bagging allows for parallel training of base models, enabling efficient utilisation of computational resources and accelerated model training.


Bagging can enhance the stability of models, particularly when base models are prone to high variance or instability, resulting in more consistent and reliable predictions.

Ensemble Size

The number of base models in the ensemble, also known as the ensemble size, can impact the balance between bias and variance in the final predictions.

Hyper-parameter Tuning

Bagging may require tuning hyper-parameters such as the number of bootstrap samples, base model parameters, or aggregation methods for optimal performance.


Bagging, or Bootstrap Aggregating, indeed serves as a cornerstone technique in machine learning, providing a robust framework for enhancing model accuracy and resilience. Its significance lies not only in its ability to improve predictive performance but also in its capacity to address fundamental challenges encountered in real-world data analysis.

At the heart of bagging lies the ingenious combination of bootstrap sampling and aggregation. Bootstrap sampling enables the creation of diverse training datasets by repeatedly drawing samples with replacement from the original data. This process fosters variability within the training data, facilitating the exploration of different aspects of the underlying distribution. Meanwhile, aggregation mechanisms, such as averaging or majority voting, harmonize the predictions of multiple models trained on these diverse datasets, resulting in a more stable and accurate final prediction.

By embracing bagging techniques, developers gain access to a versatile toolset for tackling a myriad of machine learning challenges. Whether confronted with high-dimensional data prone to overfitting, noisy datasets plagued by variance, or complex decision boundaries, bagging offers a systematic approach to enhancing model performance and generalization. Moreover, its flexibility extends beyond traditional algorithms, allowing for seamless integration with diverse machine learning techniques, including decision trees, support vector machines, and neural networks.

In practice, the execution of bagging involves careful consideration of various factors, including the choice of base learners, the number of bootstrap samples, and the aggregation strategy. Through meticulous experimentation and optimization, developers can harness the full potential of bagging to achieve superior model performance.

Furthermore, the adoption of bagging techniques fosters a culture of innovation and exploration within the machine learning community. Researchers and practitioners continually push the boundaries of bagging, exploring novel applications, refining algorithms, and uncovering new insights into its underlying principles. This dynamic ecosystem of discovery propels the field of machine learning forward, driving advancements in diverse domains, from healthcare and finance to cybersecurity and beyond.

In essence, bagging transcends its status as a mere technique; it embodies a philosophy of resilience, adaptability, and continuous improvement. By embracing the principles of bagging and mastering its execution, developers empower themselves to navigate the complexities of modern data science with confidence and ingenuity, paving the way for transformative advancements in machine learning and beyond.