# Prediction Errors: Using ML For Measurement

1 Sep

Say you want to measure the how often people visit pornographic domains over some period. To measure that, you build a model to predict whether or not a domain hosts pornography. And let’s assume that for the chosen classification threshold, the False Positive rate (FP) is 10\% and the False Negative rate (FN) is 7\%. Here below, we discuss some of the concerns with using scores from such a model and discuss ways to address the issues.

Let’s get some notation out of the way. Let’s say that we have $n$ users and that we can iterate over them using $i$. Let’s denote the total number of unique domains—domains visited by any of the $n$ users at least once during the observation window—by $k$. And let’s use $j$ to iterate over the domains. Let’s denote the number of visits to domain $j$ by user $i$ by $c_{ij} = {0, 1, 2, ....}$. And let’s denote the total number of unique domains a person visits ( $\sum (c_{ij} == 1)$) using $t_i$. Lastly, let’s denote predicted labels about whether or not each domain hosts pornography by $p$, so we have $p_1, ..., p_j, ... , p_k$.

Let’s start with a simple point. Say there are 5 domains with $p$: ${1_1, 1_2, 1_3, 1_4, 1_5}$. Let’s say user one visits the first three sites once and let’s say that user two visits all five sites once. Given 10\% of the predictions are false positives, the total measurement error in user one’s score $= 3 * .10$ and the total measurement error in user two’s score $= 5 * .10$. The general point is that total false positives increase as a function of predicted $1s$. And the total number of false negative increase as the number of predicted $0s$.

Read more here.