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Using rough set theory to identify villages affected by birth defects: the example of Heshun, Shanxi, China

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This article uses rough set theory to explore spatial decision rules in neural-tube birth defects and searches for novel spatial factors related to the disease. The whole rule induction process includes data transformation, searching for attribute reducts, rule generation, prediction or classification, and accuracy assessment. We use Heshun as an example, where neural-tube birth defects are prevalent, to validate the approach. About 50% of the villages in Heshun are used as the sample data, from which all of the rules are extracted. Meanwhile, the other villages are used as reference data. The rules extracted from the training data are then applied to the reference data. The result shows that the rules' generalization is reasonably good. Moreover, a novel relationship between the spatial attributes and the neural-tube birth defects was discovered. That is, the villages that lie in Watershed 9 of this district and that are also associated with a gradient of between 16° and 25° are vulnerable to neural-tube birth defects. This result paves the road for predicting where high rates of neural-tube birth defects will occur and can be used as a preliminary step in finding a direct cause for the disease.
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Keywords: neural-tube birth defects; rough set; spatial analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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