You can also find my articles on my Google Scholar profile. The source code of most publications is available in the Publications GitHub Repository.

Setting the Right Expectations: Algorithmic Recourse Over Time

Fonseca, J., Bell, A., Abrate, C., Bonchi, F., & Stoyanovich, J. (2023). Setting the Right Expectations: Algorithmic Recourse Over Time. In Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms, and Optimization (pp. 1-11).


Algorithmic systems are often called upon to assist in high-stakes decision making. In light of this, algorithmic recourse, the principle wherein individuals should be able to take action against an undesirable outcome made by an algorithmic system, is receiving growing attention. The bulk of the literature on algorithmic recourse to-date focuses primarily on how to provide recourse to a single individual, overlooking a critical element: the effects of a continuously changing context. Disregarding these effects on recourse is a significant oversight, since, in almost all cases, recourse consists of an individual making a first, unfavorable attempt, and then being given an opportunity to make one or several attempts at a later date — when the context might have changed. This can create false expectations, as initial recourse recommendations may become less reliable over time due to model drift and competition for access to the favorable outcome between individuals. In this work we propose an agent-based simulation framework for studying the effects of a continuously changing environment on algorithmic recourse. In particular, we identify two main effects that can alter the reliability of recourse for individuals represented by the agents: (1) competition with other agents acting upon recourse, and (2) competition with new agents entering the environment. Our findings highlight that only a small set of specific parameterizations result in algorithmic recourse that is reliable for agents over time. Consequently, we argue that substantial additional work is needed to understand recourse reliability over time, and to develop recourse methods that reward agents’ effort.

Best AI Track Paper award

Tabular and Latent Space Synthetic Data Generation: A Literature Review

Fonseca, J., & Bacao, F. (2023). Tabular and latent space synthetic data generation: a literature review. Journal of Big Data, 10(1), 115.


The generation of synthetic data can be used for anonymization, regularization, oversampling, semi-supervised learning, self-supervised learning, and several other tasks. Such broad potential motivated the development of new algorithms, specialized in data generation for specific data formats and Machine Learning (ML) tasks. However, one of the most common data formats used in industrial applications, tabular data, is generally overlooked; Literature analyses are scarce, state-of-the-art methods are spread across domains or ML tasks and there is little to no distinction among the main types of mechanism underlying synthetic data generation algorithms. In this paper, we analyze tabular and latent space synthetic data generation algorithms. Specifically, we propose a unified taxonomy as an extension and generalization of previous taxonomies, review 70 generation algorithms across six ML problems, distinguish the main generation mechanisms identified into six categories, describe each type of generation mechanism, discuss metrics to evaluate the quality of synthetic data and provide recommendations for future research. We expect this study to assist researchers and practitioners identify relevant gaps in the literature and design better and more informed practices with synthetic data.

Geometric SMOTE for Imbalanced Datasets with Nominal and Continuous Features

Fonseca, J., & Bacao, F. (2023). Geometric SMOTE for imbalanced datasets with nominal and continuous features. Expert Systems with Applications, 234, 121053.


Imbalanced learning can be addressed in 3 different ways: resampling, algorithmic modifications and cost-sensitive solutions. Resampling, and specifically oversampling, are more general approaches when opposed to algorithmic and cost-sensitive methods. Since the proposal of the Synthetic Minority Oversampling TEchnique (SMOTE), various SMOTE variants and neural network-based oversampling methods have been developed. However, the options to oversample datasets with nominal and continuous features are limited. We propose Geometric SMOTE for Nominal and Continuous features (G-SMOTENC), based on a combination of G-SMOTE and SMOTENC. Our method modifies SMOTENC's encoding and generation mechanism for nominal features while using G-SMOTE's data selection mechanism to determine the center observation and k-nearest neighbors and generation mechanism for continuous features. G-SMOTENC's performance is compared against SMOTENC's along with two other baseline methods, a State-of-the-art oversampling method and no oversampling. The experiment was performed over 20 datasets with varying imbalance ratios, number of metric and non-metric features and target classes. We found a significant improvement in classification performance when using G-SMOTENC as the oversampling method. An open-source implementation of G-SMOTENC is made available in the Python programming language.

Improving Active Learning Performance Through the Use of Data Augmentation

Fonseca, J., & Bacao, F. (2023). Improving Active Learning Performance through the Use of Data Augmentation. International Journal of Intelligent Systems, 2023.


Active learning (AL) is a well-known technique to optimize data usage in training, through the interactive selection of unlabeled observations, out of a large pool of unlabeled data, to be labeled by a supervisor. Its focus is to find the unlabeled observations that, once labeled, will maximize the informativeness of the training dataset, therefore reducing data-related costs. The literature describes several methods to improve the effectiveness of this process. Nonetheless, there is a paucity of research developed around the application of artificial data sources in AL, especially outside image classification or NLP. This paper proposes a new AL framework, which relies on the effective use of artificial data. It may be used with any classifier, generation mechanism, and data type and can be integrated with multiple other state-of-the-art AL contributions. This combination is expected to increase the ML classifier’s performance and reduce both the supervisor’s involvement and the amount of required labeled data at the expense of a marginal increase in computational time. The proposed method introduces a hyperparameter optimization component to improve the generation of artificial instances during the AL process as well as an uncertainty-based data generation mechanism. We compare the proposed method to the standard framework and an oversampling-based active learning method for more informed data generation in an AL context. The models’ performance was tested using four different classifiers, two AL-specific performance metrics, and three classification performance metrics over 15 different datasets. We demonstrated that the proposed framework, using data augmentation, significantly improved the performance of AL, both in terms of classification performance and data selection efficiency (all the codes and preprocessed data developed for this study are available at

Research Trends and Applications of Data Augmentation Algorithms

Fonseca, J., & Bacao, F. (2022). Research Trends and Applications of Data Augmentation Algorithms. arXiv preprint arXiv:2207.08817.


In the Machine Learning research community, there is a consensus regarding the relationship between model complexity and the required amount of data and computation power. In real world applications, these computational requirements are not always available, motivating research on regularization methods. In addition, current and past research have shown that simpler classification algorithms can reach state-of-the-art performance on computer vision tasks given a robust method to artificially augment the training dataset. Because of this, data augmentation techniques became a popular research topic in recent years. However, existing data augmentation methods are generally less transferable than other regularization methods. In this paper we identify the main areas of application of data augmentation algorithms, the types of algorithms used, significant research trends, their progression over time and research gaps in data augmentation literature. To do this, the related literature was collected through the Scopus database. Its analysis was done following network science, text mining and exploratory analysis approaches. We expect readers to understand the potential of data augmentation, as well as identify future research directions and open questions within data augmentation research.

Increasing the Effectiveness of Active Learning: Introducing Artificial Data Generation in Active Learning for Land Use/Land Cover Classification

Fonseca, J., Douzas, G., Bacao, F. (2021). Increasing the Effectiveness of Active Learning: Introducing Artificial Data Generation in Active Learning for Land Use/Land Cover Classification. Remote Sensing, 13(13), 2619.


In remote sensing, Active Learning (AL) has become an important technique to collect informative ground truth data "on-demand" for supervised classification tasks. In spite of its effectiveness, it is still significantly reliant on user interaction, which makes it both expensive and time consuming to implement. Most of the current literature focuses on the optimization of AL by modifying the selection criteria and the classifiers used. Although improvements in these areas will result in more effective data collection, the use of artificial data sources to reduce human-computer interaction remains unexplored. In this paper, we introduce a new component to the typical AL framework, the data generator, a source of artificial data to reduce the amount of user-labeled data required in AL\@. The implementation of the proposed AL framework is done using Geometric SMOTE as data generator. We compare the new AL framework to the original one using similar acquisition functions and classifiers over three AL-specific performance metrics in seven benchmark datasets. We show that this modification of the AL framework significantly reduces cost and time requirements for a successful AL implementation in all of the datasets used in the experiment.

Improving Imbalanced Land Cover Classification with K-means SMOTE: Detecting and Oversampling Distinctive Minority Spectral Signatures

Fonseca, J., Douzas, G., Bacao, F. (2021). Improving Imbalanced Land Cover Classification with K-Means SMOTE: Detecting and Oversampling Distinctive Minority Spectral Signatures. Information, 12(7), 266.


Land cover maps are a critical tool to support informed policy development, planning, and resource management decisions. With significant upsides, the automatic production of Land Use/Land Cover maps has been a topic of interest for the remote sensing community for several years, but it is still fraught with technical challenges. One such challenge is the imbalanced nature of most remotely sensed data. The asymmetric class distribution impacts negatively the performance of classifiers and adds a new source of error to the production of these maps. In this paper, we address the imbalanced learning problem, by using K-means and the Synthetic Minority Oversampling TEchnique (SMOTE) as an improved oversampling algorithm. K-Means SMOTE improves the quality of newly created artificial data by addressing both the between-class imbalance, as traditional oversamplers do, but also the within-class imbalance, avoiding the generation of noisy data while effectively overcoming data imbalance. The performance of K-means SMOTE is compared to three popular oversampling methods (Random Oversampling, SMOTE and Borderline-SMOTE) using seven remote sensing benchmark datasets, three classifiers (Logistic Regression, K-Nearest Neighbors and Random Forest Classifier) and three evaluation metrics using a 5-fold cross-validation approach with 3 different initialization seeds. The statistical analysis of the results show that the proposed method consistently outperforms the remaining oversamplers producing higher quality land cover classifications. These results suggest that LULC data can benefit significantly from the use of more sophisticated oversamplers as spectral signatures for the same class can vary according to geographical distribution.

Narratives and Needs: Analyzing Experiences of Cyclone Amphan Using Twitter Discourse

Crayton A, Fonseca J, Mehra K, Ng M, Ross J, Sandoval-Castañeda M, von Gnecht R. (2021). Narratives and Needs: Analyzing Experiences of Cyclone Amphan Using Twitter Discourse, in IJCAI 2021 Workshop on AI for Social Good.


People often turn to social media to comment upon and share information about major global events. Accordingly, social media is receiving increasing attention as a rich data source for understanding people's social, political and economic experiences of extreme weather events. In this paper, we contribute two novel methodologies that leverage Twitter discourse to characterize narratives and identify unmet needs in response to Cyclone Amphan, which affected 18 million people in May 2020.

Imbalanced Learning in Land Cover Classification: Improving Minority Classes’ Prediction Accuracy Using the Geometric SMOTE Algorithm

Douzas, G., Bacao, F., Fonseca, J., & Khudinyan, M. (2019). Imbalanced Learning in Land Cover Classification: Improving Minority Classes’ Prediction Accuracy Using the Geometric SMOTE Algorithm. Remote Sensing, 11(24), 3040.


The automatic production of land use/land cover maps continues to be a challenging problem, with important impacts on the ability to promote sustainability and good resource management. The ability to build robust automatic classifiers and produce accurate maps can have a significant impact on the way we manage and optimize natural resources. The difficulty in achieving these results comes from many different factors, such as data quality and uncertainty. In this paper, we address the imbalanced learning problem, a common and difficult conundrum in remote sensing that affects the quality of classification results, by proposing Geometric-SMOTE, a novel oversampling method, as a tool for addressing the imbalanced learning problem in remote sensing. Geometric-SMOTE is a sophisticated oversampling algorithm which increases the quality of the instances generated in previous methods, such as the synthetic minority oversampling technique. The performance of Geometric-SMOTE, in the LUCAS (Land Use/Cover Area Frame Survey) dataset, is compared to other oversamplers using a variety of classifiers. The results show that Geometric-SMOTE significantly outperforms all the other oversamplers and improves the robustness of the classifiers. These results indicate that, when using imbalanced datasets, remote sensing researchers should consider the use of these new generation oversamplers to increase the quality of the classification results.