This paper proposes a novel approach to building regression trees and ensemble learning in survival analysis. By first extending the theory of censoring unbiased transformations, we construct observed data estimators of full data loss functions in cases where responses can be right censored. This theory is used to construct two specific classes of methods for building regression trees and regression ensembles that respectively make use of Buckley-James and doubly robust estimating equations for a given full data risk function. For the particular case of squared error loss, we further show how to implement these algorithms using existing software (e.g., CART, random forests) by making use of a related form of response imputation. Comparisons of these methods to existing ensemble procedures for predicting survival probabilities are provided in both simulated settings and through applications to four datasets. It is shown that these new methods either improve upon, or remain competitive with, existing implementations of random survival forests, conditional inference forests, and recursively imputed survival trees.


Biostatistics | Statistical Methodology

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