# With the Naive Bayes classifier, why do we have to normalize the probabilities after calculating the probabilities of each hypothesis?

In the Naive Bayes classifier, why do we have to normalize the probabilities after calculating the probabilities of each hypothesis?

• If you want to have the responsibility of each class for a single datapoint, you must normalize to 1, otherwise it can not be interpreted as a probability. Dec 5 '16 at 15:42
• This question appears to be squarely on-topic to me - it's about probability and statistics.
– Sycorax
Dec 5 '16 at 16:48
• Maybe duplicate: stats.stackexchange.com/q/129666/103153 Jan 20 '19 at 16:24

You do not have to normalize the probabilities if you only care about knowing which class ($\hat{y}$) your input ($\mathbf{x}=x_1, \dots, x_n$) most likely belongs to, since the maximum a posteriori (MAP) decision rule is as follows:

$\hat{y} = \underset{k \in \{1, \dots, K\}}{\operatorname{argmax}}p(C_k \vert x_1, \dots, x_n) = \underset{k \in \{1, \dots, K\}}{\operatorname{argmax}} \ p(C_k) \displaystyle\prod_{i=1}^n p(x_i \vert C_k)$

Since

\begin{align} p(C_k \vert x_1, \dots, x_n) & \varpropto p(C_k, x_1, \dots, x_n) \\ & \varpropto p(C_k) \ p(x_1 \vert C_k) \ p(x_2\vert C_k) \ p(x_3\vert C_k) \ \cdots \\ & \varpropto p(C_k) \prod_{i=1}^n p(x_i \vert C_k)\,. \end{align}

If you do want the class probabilities, then you indeed need to normalize:

$p(C_k \vert x_1, \dots, x_n) = ~\frac{p(C_k) \prod_{i=1}^n p(x_i \vert C_k)\,}{ \sum_{1 \leq j \leq |C|}{ \left( p(C_j) \prod_{i=1}^n p(x_i \vert C_j\,) \right) }}$

But keep in mind that, from {1}

the winning class in NB classification usually has a much larger probability than the other classes and the estimates diverge very significantly from the true probabilities. NB classifiers estimate badly, but often classify well.

References: