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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 387673, 10 pages
Research Article

A Comparative Analysis of Biomarker Selection Techniques

Dipartimento di Matematica e Informatica, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Via Ospedale 72, 09124 Cagliari, Italy

Received 23 April 2013; Revised 22 September 2013; Accepted 23 September 2013

Academic Editor: Eugénio Ferreira

Copyright © 2013 Nicoletta Dessì et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Feature selection has become the essential step in biomarker discovery from high-dimensional genomics data. It is recognized that different feature selection techniques may result in different set of biomarkers, that is, different groups of genes highly correlated to a given pathological condition, but few direct comparisons exist which quantify these differences in a systematic way. In this paper, we propose a general methodology for comparing the outcomes of different selection techniques in the context of biomarker discovery. The comparison is carried out along two dimensions: (i) measuring the similarity/dissimilarity of selected gene sets; (ii) evaluating the implications of these differences in terms of both predictive performance and stability of selected gene sets. As a case study, we considered three benchmarks deriving from DNA microarray experiments and conducted a comparative analysis among eight selection methods, representatives of different classes of feature selection techniques. Our results show that the proposed approach can provide useful insight about the pattern of agreement of biomarker discovery techniques.