Classifiers based on radial basis function neural networks have a number of useful properties that can be exploited in many practical applications. Using sample data, it is possible to adjust their parameters (weights), to optimize their structure, and to select appropriate input features (attributes). Moreover, interpretable rules can be extracted from a trained classifier and input samples can be identified that cannot be classified with a sufficient degree of "certainty". These properties support an analysis of radial basis function classifiers and allow for an adaption to "novel" kinds of input samples in a real-world application. In this article, we outline these properties and show how they can be exploited in the field of intrusion detection (detection of network-based misuse). Intrusion detection plays an increasingly important role in securing computer networks. In this case study, we first compare the classification abilities of radial basis function classifiers, multilayer perceptrons, the neuro-fuzzy system NEFCLASS, decision trees, classifying fuzzy-k-means, support vector machines, Bayesian networks, and nearest neighbor classifiers. Then, we investigate the interpretability and understandability of the best paradigms found in the previous step. We show how structure optimization and feature selection for radial basis function classifiers can be done by means of evolutionary algorithms and compare this approach to decision trees optimized using certain pruning techniques. Finally, we demonstrate that radial basis function classifiers are basically able to detect novel attack types. The many advantageous properties of radial basis function classifiers could certainly be exploited in other application fields in a similar way. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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