Bagging vs Boosting in Machine Learning: Difference Between Bagging and Boosting

Owing to the proliferation of Machine learning applications and an increase in computing power, data scientists have inherently implemented algorithms to the data sets. The key to which an algorithm is implemented is the way bias and variance are produced. Models with low bias are generally preferred.

Organizations use supervised machine learning techniques such as decision trees to make better decisions and generate more profits. Different decision trees, when combined, make ensemble methods and deliver predictive results.

The main purpose of using an ensemble model is to group a set of weak learners and form a strong learner. The way it is done is defined in the two techniques: Bagging and Boosting that work differently and are used interchangeably for obtaining better outcomes with high precision and accuracy and fewer errors. With ensemble methods, multiple models are brought together to produce a powerful model.

This blog post will introduce various concepts of ensemble learning. First, understanding the ensemble method will open pathways to learning-related methods and designing adapted solutions. Further, we will discuss the extended concepts of Bagging and Boosting for a clear idea to the readers about how these two methods differ, their basic applications, and the predictive results obtained from both.

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What is an Ensemble Method?

The ensemble is a method used in the machine learning algorithm. In this method, multiple models or ‘weak learners’ are trained to rectify the same problem and integrated to gain desired results. Weak models combined rightly give accurate models.

First, the base models are needed to set up an ensemble learning method that will be clustered afterward. In the Bagging and Boosting algorithms, a single base learning algorithm is used. The reason behind this is that we will have homogeneous weak learners at hand, which will be trained in different ways.

The ensemble model made this way will eventually be called a homogenous model. But the story doesn’t end here. There are some methods in which different types of base learning algorithms are also implied with heterogeneous weak learners making a ‘heterogeneous ensemble model.’ But in this blog, we will only deal with the former ensemble model and discuss the two most popular ensemble methods herewith.

  1. Bagging is a homogeneous weak learners’ model that learns from each other independently in parallel and combines them for determining the model average.
  2. Boosting is also a homogeneous weak learners’ model but works differently from Bagging. In this model, learners learn sequentially and adaptively to improve model predictions of a learning algorithm.

That was Bagging and Boosting at a glimpse. Let’s look at both of them in detail. Some of the factors that cause errors in learning are noise, bias, and variance. The ensemble method is applied to reduce these factors resulting in the stability and accuracy of the result.

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Bagging is an acronym for ‘Bootstrap Aggregation’ and is used to decrease the variance in the prediction model. Bagging is a parallel method that fits different, considered learners independently from each other, making it possible to train them simultaneously.

Bagging generates additional data for training from the dataset. This is achieved by random sampling with replacement from the original dataset. Sampling with replacement may repeat some observations in each new training data set. Every element in Bagging is equally probable for appearing in a new dataset. 

These multi datasets are used to train multiple models in parallel. The average of all the predictions from different ensemble models is calculated. The majority vote gained from the voting mechanism is considered when classification is made. Bagging decreases the variance and tunes the prediction to an expected outcome.

Example of Bagging:

The Random Forest model uses Bagging, where decision tree models with higher variance are present. It makes random feature selection to grow trees. Several random trees make a Random Forest.


Boosting is a sequential ensemble method that iteratively adjusts the weight of observation as per the last classification. If an observation is incorrectly classified, it increases the weight of that observation. The term ‘Boosting’ in a layman language, refers to algorithms that convert a weak learner to a stronger one. It decreases the bias error and builds strong predictive models.

Data points mispredicted in each iteration are spotted, and their weights are increased. The Boosting algorithm allocates weights to each resulting model during training. A learner with good training data prediction results will be assigned a higher weight. When evaluating a new learner, Boosting keeps track of learner’s errors. 

Example of Boosting: 

The AdaBoost uses Boosting techniques, where a 50% less error is required to maintain the model. Here, Boosting can keep or discard a single learner. Otherwise, the iteration is repeated until achieving a better learner.

Similarities and Differences between Bagging and Boosting

Bagging and Boosting, both being the popularly used methods, have a universal similarity of being classified as ensemble methods. Here we will highlight more similarities between them, followed by the differences they have from each other. Let us first start with similarities as understanding these will make understanding the differences easier.

Bagging and Boosting: Similarities

  1. Bagging and Boosting are ensemble methods focused on getting N learners from a single learner.
  2. Bagging and Boosting make random sampling and generate several training data sets 
  3. Bagging and Boosting arrive upon the end decision by making an average of N learners or taking the voting rank done by most of them.
  4. Bagging and Boosting reduce variance and provide higher stability with minimizing errors.

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Bagging and Boosting: Differences

As we said already,

Bagging is a method of merging the same type of predictions. Boosting is a method of merging different types of predictions.

Bagging decreases variance, not bias, and solves over-fitting issues in a model. Boosting decreases bias, not variance.

In Bagging, each model receives an equal weight. In Boosting, models are weighed based on their performance.

Models are built independently in Bagging. New models are affected by a previously built model’s performance in Boosting.

In Bagging, training data subsets are drawn randomly with a replacement for the training dataset. In Boosting, every new subset comprises the elements that were misclassified by previous models.

Bagging is usually applied where the classifier is unstable and has a high variance. Boosting is usually applied where the classifier is stable and simple and has high bias.

Bagging and Boosting: A Conclusive Summary

Now that we have thoroughly described the concepts of Bagging and Boosting, we have arrived at the end of the article and can conclude how both are equally important in Data Science and where to be applied in a model depends on the sets of data given, their simulation and the given circumstances. Thus, on the one hand, in a Random Forest model, Bagging is used, and the AdaBoost model implies the Boosting algorithm.

A machine learning model’s performance is calculated by comparing its training accuracy with validation accuracy, which is achieved by splitting the data into two sets: the training set and validation set. The training set is used to train the model, and the validation set is used for evaluation. 

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