Synthetic Tabular Data Evaluation in the Health Domain Covering Resemblance, Utility and Privacy Dimensions

Mikel Hernandez, Gorka Epelde, Ane Alberdi, Rodrigo Cilla, Debbie Rankin

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Abstract

Background Synthetic tabular data generation is a potentially valuable technology with great promise for data augmentation and privacy preservation. However, prior to adoption, an empirical assessment of generated synthetic tabular data is required across dimensions relevant to the target application to determine its efficacy. A lack of standardized and objective evaluation and benchmarking strategy for synthetic tabular data in the health domain has been found in the literature.

Objective The aim of this paper is to identify key dimensions, per dimension metrics, and methods for evaluating synthetic tabular data generated with different techniques and configurations for health domain application development and to provide a strategy to orchestrate them.

Methods Based on the literature, the resemblance, utility, and privacy dimensions have been prioritized, and a collection of metrics and methods for their evaluation are orchestrated into a complete evaluation pipeline. This way, a guided and comparative assessment of generated synthetic tabular data can be done, categorizing its quality into three categories (“Excellent,” “Good,” and “Poor”). Six health care-related datasets and four synthetic tabular data generation approaches have been chosen to conduct an analysis and evaluation to verify the utility of the proposed evaluation pipeline.

Results The synthetic tabular data generated with the four selected approaches has maintained resemblance, utility, and privacy for most datasets and synthetic tabular data generation approach combination. In several datasets, some approaches have outperformed others, while in other datasets, more than one approach has yielded the same performance.

Conclusion The results have shown that the proposed pipeline can effectively be used to evaluate and benchmark the synthetic tabular data generated by various synthetic tabular data generation approaches. Therefore, this pipeline can support the scientific community in selecting the most suitable synthetic tabular data generation approaches for their data and application of interest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalMethods of Information in Medicine
Early online date9 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 9 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Keywords

  • synthetic data
  • synthetic tabular data generation
  • synthetic tabular data evaluation
  • resemblance evaluation
  • utility evaluation
  • privacy evaluation

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