Comparative analysis of data mining methods for bankruptcy prediction

David L. Olson, Dursun Delen, Yanyan Meng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations


A great deal of research has been devoted to prediction of bankruptcy, to include application of data mining. Neural networks, support vector machines, and other algorithms often fit data well, but because of lack of comprehensibility, they are considered black box technologies. Conversely, decision trees are more comprehensible by human users. However, sometimes far too many rules result in another form of incomprehensibility. The number of rules obtained from decision tree algorithms can be controlled to some degree through setting different minimum support levels. This study applies a variety of data mining tools to bankruptcy data, with the purpose of comparing accuracy and number of rules. For this data, decision trees were found to be relatively more accurate compared to neural networks and support vector machines, but there were more rule nodes than desired. Adjustment of minimum support yielded more tractable rule sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-473
Number of pages10
JournalDecision Support Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Bankruptcy prediction
  • Data mining
  • Decision trees
  • Neural networks
  • Support vector machines
  • Transparency
  • Transportability


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