We set out in this study to review a vast amount of recent literature on machine learning (ML) approaches to predicting financial distress (FD), including supervised, unsupervised and hybrid supervised–unsupervised learning algorithms. Four supervised ML models including the traditional support vector machine (SVM), recently developed hybrid associative memory with translation (HACT), hybrid GA-fuzzy clustering and extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost) were compared in prediction performance to the unsupervised classifier deep belief network (DBN) and the hybrid DBN-SVM model, whereby a total of sixteen financial variables were selected from the financial statements of the publicly-listed Taiwanese firms as inputs to the six approaches. Our empirical findings, covering the 2010–2016 sample period, demonstrated that among the four supervised algorithms, the XGBoost provided the most accurate FD prediction. Moreover, the hybrid DBN-SVM model was able to generate more accurate forecasts than the use of either the SVM or the classifier DBN in isolation.
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