A benchmark of categorical encoders for binary classification

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Datasets and Benchmarks Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Federico Matteucci, Vadim Arzamasov, Klemens Böhm


Categorical encoders transform categorical features into numerical representations that are indispensable for a wide range of machine learning models.Existing encoder benchmark studies lack generalizability because of their limited choice of (1) encoders, (2) experimental factors, and (3) datasets. Additionally, inconsistencies arise from the adoption of varying aggregation strategies.This paper is the most comprehensive benchmark of categorical encoders to date, including an extensive evaluation of 32 configurations of encoders from diverse families, with 36 combinations of experimental factors, and on 50 datasets.The study shows the profound influence of dataset selection, experimental factors, and aggregation strategies on the benchmark's conclusions~---~aspects disregarded in previous encoder benchmarks.Our code is available at \url{https://github.com/DrCohomology/EncoderBenchmarking}.