What are Precision & Recall in Machine Studying?



Precision and recall are generally used metrics to measure the efficiency of machine studying fashions or AI options usually. It helps perceive how nicely fashions are making predictions.

Let’s use an e-mail SPAM prediction instance. Say you might have a mannequin that appears at an e-mail and decides whether or not it’s SPAM or NOT SPAM. To see how nicely it’s doing, you wish to examine it with human-generated labels, which we are going to name the precise labels.

To show this, the desk beneath exhibits you some precise labels and the machine (mannequin) predicted labels. Now we’ll assume that the spam prediction is optimistic, and the not spam prediction is adverse.

E mail ID Precise Label Machine Predicted Label
E mail 1 Spam (optimistic) Spam (optimistic & right)
E mail 2 Spam (optimistic) Not Spam (adverse & incorrect)
E mail 3 Not Spam (adverse) Spam (optimistic & incorrect)
E mail 4 Spam (optimistic) Not Spam (adverse & incorrect)
E mail spam predictions with corresponding true predictions.

What’s Precision in ML?

Given this, intuitively, precision measures the proportion of right optimistic predictions.

How precision is computed

As you may see from the desk above, out of the two spam (optimistic) machine predictions, just one is right. So the precision is 0.5 or 50%.

What’s Recall in ML?

Recall measures the proportion of precise optimistic labels accurately recognized by the mannequin.

recall computing in machine learning
How recall is computed

From the desk above, discover that we’ve got 3 precise labels which might be optimistic, and out of that just one is accurately captured by the mannequin. So the recall is 0.33 or 33%.

All in all, within the SPAM prediction instance, precision is 50% and recall is 33%.

What Message Do Precision and Recall Convey?

What precision measures at a excessive stage is correctness. What recall measures at a excessive stage is protection. For instance, if precision is 98% it implies that when the mannequin says the prediction is optimistic, the prediction is probably going correct. A mannequin may be overly conservative and solely make restricted optimistic predictions, leading to excessive precision. In different phrases, it fails to make enough optimistic predictions. Because of this you additionally want to think about recall—to make sure you’re capturing enough precise positives.

In terms of recall, a excessive recall implies that the mannequin can seize many of the optimistic predictions. But when a mannequin says every thing is optimistic no matter underlying reasoning, the recall might be artificially excessive and near good. That’s why you’ll want to stability between precision and recall. You need correct predictions, however on the similar time not at the price of lacking out on too many optimistic predictions (false adverse predictions). Ideally, you need sufficiently excessive precision and recall.


In abstract, precision measures the proportion of right optimistic predictions, and recall measures the protection of precise optimistic labels. For a mannequin to be thought-about “good” each precision and recall should be at acceptable ranges. In the long run, what’s acceptable depends upon the applying.

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