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A novel committee selection mechanism for combining classifiers to detect unsolicited emails
Trivedi S K,
Published in Emerald Publishing
Volume: 46
Issue: 4
Pages: 524 - 548


The email is an important medium for sharing information rapidly. However, spam, being a nuisance in such communication, motivates the building of a robust filtering system with high classification accuracy and good sensitivity towards false positives. In that context, this paper aims to present a combined classifier technique using a committee selection mechanism where the main objective is to identify a set of classifiers so that their individual decisions can be combined by a committee selection procedure for accurate detection of spam.


For training and testing of the relevant machine learning classifiers, text mining approaches are used in this research. Three data sets (Enron, SpamAssassin and LingSpam) have been used to test the classifiers. Initially, pre-processing is performed to extract the features associated with the email files. In the next step, the extracted features are taken through a dimensionality reduction method where non-informative features are removed. Subsequently, an informative feature subset is selected using genetic feature search. Thereafter, the proposed classifiers are tested on those informative features and the results compared with those of other classifiers.


For building the proposed combined classifier, three different studies have been performed. The first study identifies the effect of boosting algorithms on two probabilistic classifiers: Bayesian and Naïve Bayes. In that study, AdaBoost has been found to be the best algorithm for performance boosting. The second study was on the effect of different Kernel functions on support vector machine (SVM) classifier, where SVM with normalized polynomial (NP) kernel was observed to be the best. The last study was on combining classifiers with committee selection where the committee members were the best classifiers identified by the first study i.e. Bayesian and Naïve bays with AdaBoost, and the committee president was selected from the second study i.e. SVM with NP kernel. Results show that combining of the identified classifiers to form a committee machine gives excellent performance accuracy with a low false positive rate.

Research limitations/implications

This research is focused on the classification of email spams written in English language. Only body (text) parts of the emails have been used. Image spam has not been included in this work. We have restricted our work to only emails messages. None of the other types of messages like short message service or multi-media messaging service were a part of this study.

Practical implications

This research proposes a method of dealing with the issues and challenges faced by internet service providers and organizations that use email. The proposed model provides not only better classification accuracy but also a low false positive rate.


The proposed combined classifier is a novel classifier designed for accurate classification of email spam.

About the journal
JournalData powered by TypesetVINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems
PublisherData powered by TypesetEmerald Publishing
Open AccessNo