Classification involves associating instances with particular classes by maximizing intra-class similarities and minimizing inter-class similarities. Thus, the way similarity among instances is measured is crucial for the success of the system. In case-based reasoning, it is assumed that similar problems have similar solutions. The case-based approach to classification is founded on retrieving cases from the case base that are similar to a given problem, and associating the problem with the class containing the most similar cases. Similarity-based retrieval tools can advantageously be used in building flexible retrieval and classification systems. Case-based classification uses previously classified instances to label unknown instances with proper classes. Classification accuracy is affected by the retrieval process – the more relevant the instances used for classification, the greater the accuracy. The paper presents a novel approach to case-based classification. The algorithm is based on a notion of similarity assessment and was developed for supporting flexible retrieval of relevant information. Case similarity is assessed with respect to a given context that defines constraints for matching. Context relaxation and restriction is used for controlling the classification accuracy. The validity of the proposed approach is tested on real-world domains, and the system’s performance, in terms of accuracy and scalability, is compared to that of other machine learning algorithms.
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