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A fast multivariate nearest neighbour imputation algorithm

Solomon, N., Oatley, G. and McGarry, K. (2007) A fast multivariate nearest neighbour imputation algorithm. In: 2007 International Conference of Computational Statistics and Data Engineering (ICCSDE'07), 2 - 4 July 2007, London, UK



Imputation of missing data is important in many areas, such as reducing non-response bias in surveys and maintaining medical documentation. Nearest neighbour (NN) imputation algorithms replace the missing values within any particular observation by taking copies of the corresponding known values from the most similar observation found in the dataset. However, when NN algorithms are executed against large multivariate datasets the poor performance (program execution speed) of these algorithms can present major practical problems. We argue that these problems have not been sufficiently addressed, and we present a fast NN imputation algorithm that can employ any method for measuring the similarity between observations. The algorithm has been designed for the imputation of missing values in large multivariate datasets that contain many different missingness patterns with large proportions of missing data. The ideas underpinning the algorithm are explained in detail, and experiments are described which show that the algorithm delivers very good performance when it is used for imputation in both segmented and non-segmented datasets containing several million rows.

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