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In statistics, linear regression is a linear approach for modelling the relationship between a scalar response and one or more explanatory variables (also known as dependent and independent variables). The case of one explanatory variable is called simple linear regression ; for more than one, the process is called multiple linear regression.This term is distinct from multivariate linear regression, where multiple correlated dependent variables are predicted, rather than a single scalar variable.
In linear regression, the relationships are modeled using linear predictor functions whose unknown model parameters are estimated from the data. Such models are called linear models.Most commonly, the conditional mean of the response given the values of the explanatory variables (or predictors) is assumed to be an affine function of those values; less commonly, the conditional median or some other quantile is used. Like all forms of regression analysis, linear regression focuses on the conditional probability distribution of the response given the values of the predictors, rather than on the joint probability distribution of all of these variables, which is the domain of multivariate analysis.
Linear regression was the first type of regression analysis to be studied rigorously, and to be used extensively in practical applications.This is because models which depend linearly on their unknown parameters are easier to fit than models which are non-linearly related to their parameters and because the statistical properties of the resulting estimators are easier to determine.
Linear regression has many practical uses. Most applications fall into one of the following two broad categories:
Linear regression models are often fitted using the least squares approach, but they may also be fitted in other ways, such as by minimizing the "lack of fit" in some other norm (as with least absolute deviations regression), or by minimizing a penalized version of the least squares cost function as in ridge regression (L2-norm penalty) and lasso (L1-norm penalty). Conversely, the least squares approach can be used to fit models that are not linear models. Thus, although the terms "least squares" and "linear model" are closely linked, they are not synonymous.
Given a data set of n statistical units, a linear regression model assumes that the relationship between the dependent variable y and the p-vector of regressors x is linear. This relationship is modeled through a disturbance term or error variableε — an unobserved random variable that adds "noise" to the linear relationship between the dependent variable and regressors. Thus the model takes the form
where T denotes the transpose, so that xiTβ is the inner product between vectors xi and β.
Often these n equations are stacked together and written in matrix notation as
Fitting a linear model to a given data set usually requires estimating the regression coefficients such that the error term is minimized. For example, it is common to use the sum of squared errors as a measure of for minimization.
Consider a situation where a small ball is being tossed up in the air and then we measure its heights of ascent hi at various moments in time ti. Physics tells us that, ignoring the drag, the relationship can be modeled as
where β1 determines the initial velocity of the ball, β2 is proportional to the standard gravity, and εi is due to measurement errors. Linear regression can be used to estimate the values of β1 and β2 from the measured data. This model is non-linear in the time variable, but it is linear in the parameters β1 and β2; if we take regressors xi = (xi1, xi2) = (ti, ti2), the model takes on the standard form
Standard linear regression models with standard estimation techniques make a number of assumptions about the predictor variables, the response variables and their relationship. Numerous extensions have been developed that allow each of these assumptions to be relaxed (i.e. reduced to a weaker form), and in some cases eliminated entirely. Generally these extensions make the estimation procedure more complex and time-consuming, and may also require more data in order to produce an equally precise model.
The following are the major assumptions made by standard linear regression models with standard estimation techniques (e.g. ordinary least squares):
Beyond these assumptions, several other statistical properties of the data strongly influence the performance of different estimation methods:
A fitted linear regression model can be used to identify the relationship between a single predictor variable xj and the response variable y when all the other predictor variables in the model are "held fixed". Specifically, the interpretation of βj is the expected change in y for a one-unit change in xj when the other covariates are held fixed—that is, the expected value of the partial derivative of y with respect to xj. This is sometimes called the unique effect of xj on y. In contrast, the marginal effect of xj on y can be assessed using a correlation coefficient or simple linear regression model relating only xj to y; this effect is the total derivative of y with respect to xj.
Care must be taken when interpreting regression results, as some of the regressors may not allow for marginal changes (such as dummy variables, or the intercept term), while others cannot be held fixed (recall the example from the introduction: it would be impossible to "hold ti fixed" and at the same time change the value of ti2).
It is possible that the unique effect can be nearly zero even when the marginal effect is large. This may imply that some other covariate captures all the information in xj, so that once that variable is in the model, there is no contribution of xj to the variation in y. Conversely, the unique effect of xj can be large while its marginal effect is nearly zero. This would happen if the other covariates explained a great deal of the variation of y, but they mainly explain variation in a way that is complementary to what is captured by xj. In this case, including the other variables in the model reduces the part of the variability of y that is unrelated to xj, thereby strengthening the apparent relationship with xj.
The meaning of the expression "held fixed" may depend on how the values of the predictor variables arise. If the experimenter directly sets the values of the predictor variables according to a study design, the comparisons of interest may literally correspond to comparisons among units whose predictor variables have been "held fixed" by the experimenter. Alternatively, the expression "held fixed" can refer to a selection that takes place in the context of data analysis. In this case, we "hold a variable fixed" by restricting our attention to the subsets of the data that happen to have a common value for the given predictor variable. This is the only interpretation of "held fixed" that can be used in an observational study.
The notion of a "unique effect" is appealing when studying a complex system where multiple interrelated components influence the response variable. In some cases, it can literally be interpreted as the causal effect of an intervention that is linked to the value of a predictor variable. However, it has been argued that in many cases multiple regression analysis fails to clarify the relationships between the predictor variables and the response variable when the predictors are correlated with each other and are not assigned following a study design.
In a multiple linear regression model
parameter of predictor variable represents the individual effect of . It has an interpretation as the expected change in the response variable when increases by one unit with other predictor variables held constant. When is strongly correlated with other predictor variables, it is improbable that can increase by one unit with other variables held constant. In this case, the interpretation of becomes problematic as it is based on an improbable condition, and the effect of cannot be evaluated in isolation.
For a group of predictor variables, say, , a group effect is defined as a linear combination of their parameters
where is a weight vector satisfying . Because of the constraint on , is also referred to as a normalized group effect. A group effect has an interpretation as the expected change in when variables in the group change by the amount , respectively, at the same time with variables not in the group held constant. It generalizes the individual effect of a variable to a group of variables in that () if , then the group effect reduces to an individual effect, and () if and for , then the group effect also reduces to an individual effect. A group effect is said to be meaningful if the underlying simultaneous changes of the variables is probable.
Group effects provide a means to study the collective impact of strongly correlated predictor variables in linear regression models. Individual effects of such variables are not well-defined as their parameters do not have good interpretations. Furthermore, when the sample size is not large, none of their parameters can be accurately estimated by the least squares regression due to the multicollinearity problem. Nevertheless, there are meaningful group effects that have good interpretations and can be accurately estimated by the least squares regression. A simple way to identify these meaningful group effects is to use an all positive correlations (APC) arrangement of the strongly correlated variables under which pairwise correlations among these variables are all positive, and standardize all predictor variables in the model so that they all have mean zero and length one. To illustrate this, suppose that is a group of strongly correlated variables in an APC arrangement and that they are not strongly correlated with predictor variables outside the group. Let be the centred and be the standardized . Then, the standardized linear regression model is
Parameters in the original model, including , are simple functions of in the standardized model. The standardization of variables does not change their correlations, so is a group of strongly correlated variables in an APC arrangement and they are not strongly correlated with other predictor variables in the standardized model. A group effect of is
and its minimum-variance unbiased linear estimator is
where is the least squares estimator of . In particular, the average group effect of the standardized variables is
which has an interpretation as the expected change in when all in the strongly correlated group increase by th of a unit at the same time with variables outside the group held constant. With strong positive correlations and in standardized units, variables in the group are approximately equal, so they are likely to increase at the same time and in similar amount. Thus, the average group effect is a meaningful effect. It can be accurately estimated by its minimum-variance unbiased linear estimator , even when individually none of the can be accurately estimated by .
Not all group effects are meaningful or can be accurately estimated. For example, is a special group effect with weights and for , but it cannot be accurately estimated by . It is also not a meaningful effect. In general, for a group of strongly correlated predictor variables in an APC arrangement in the standardized model, group effects whose weight vectors are at or near the centre of the simplex () are meaningful and can be accurately estimated by their minimum-variance unbiased linear estimators. Effects with weight vectors far away from the centre are not meaningful as such weight vectors represent simultaneous changes of the variables that violate the strong positive correlations of the standardized variables in an APC arrangement. As such, they are not probable. These effects also cannot be accurately estimated.
A group effect of the original variables can be expressed as a constant times a group effect of the standardized variables . The former is meaningful when the latter is. Thus meaningful group effects of the original variables can be found through meaningful group effects of the standardized variables.
Numerous extensions of linear regression have been developed, which allow some or all of the assumptions underlying the basic model to be relaxed.
The very simplest case of a single scalar predictor variable x and a single scalar response variable y is known as simple linear regression . The extension to multiple and/or vector-valued predictor variables (denoted with a capital X) is known as multiple linear regression, also known as multivariable linear regression (not to be confused with multivariate linear regression).
Multiple linear regression is a generalization of simple linear regression to the case of more than one independent variable, and a special case of general linear models, restricted to one dependent variable. The basic model for multiple linear regression is
for each observation i = 1, ... , n.
In the formula above we consider n observations of one dependent variable and p independent variables. Thus, Yi is the ith observation of the dependent variable, Xij is ith observation of the jth independent variable, j = 1, 2, ..., p. The values βj represent parameters to be estimated, and εi is the ith independent identically distributed normal error.
In the more general multivariate linear regression, there is one equation of the above form for each of m > 1 dependent variables that share the same set of explanatory variables and hence are estimated simultaneously with each other:
for all observations indexed as i = 1, ... , n and for all dependent variables indexed as j = 1, ... , m.
Nearly all real-world regression models involve multiple predictors, and basic descriptions of linear regression are often phrased in terms of the multiple regression model. Note, however, that in these cases the response variable y is still a scalar. Another term, multivariate linear regression, refers to cases where y is a vector, i.e., the same as general linear regression.
The general linear model considers the situation when the response variable is not a scalar (for each observation) but a vector, yi. Conditional linearity of is still assumed, with a matrix B replacing the vector β of the classical linear regression model. Multivariate analogues of ordinary least squares (OLS) and generalized least squares (GLS) have been developed. "General linear models" are also called "multivariate linear models". These are not the same as multivariable linear models (also called "multiple linear models").
Various models have been created that allow for heteroscedasticity, i.e. the errors for different response variables may have different variances. For example, weighted least squares is a method for estimating linear regression models when the response variables may have different error variances, possibly with correlated errors. (See also Weighted linear least squares, and Generalized least squares.) Heteroscedasticity-consistent standard errors is an improved method for use with uncorrelated but potentially heteroscedastic errors.
Generalized linear models (GLMs) are a framework for modeling response variables that are bounded or discrete. This is used, for example:
Generalized linear models allow for an arbitrary link function, g, that relates the mean of the response variable(s) to the predictors: . The link function is often related to the distribution of the response, and in particular it typically has the effect of transforming between the range of the linear predictor and the range of the response variable.
Some common examples of GLMs are:
Single index models[ clarification needed ] allow some degree of nonlinearity in the relationship between x and y, while preserving the central role of the linear predictor β′x as in the classical linear regression model. Under certain conditions, simply applying OLS to data from a single-index model will consistently estimate β up to a proportionality constant.
Hierarchical linear models (or multilevel regression) organizes the data into a hierarchy of regressions, for example where A is regressed on B, and B is regressed on C. It is often used where the variables of interest have a natural hierarchical structure such as in educational statistics, where students are nested in classrooms, classrooms are nested in schools, and schools are nested in some administrative grouping, such as a school district. The response variable might be a measure of student achievement such as a test score, and different covariates would be collected at the classroom, school, and school district levels.
Errors-in-variables models (or "measurement error models") extend the traditional linear regression model to allow the predictor variables X to be observed with error. This error causes standard estimators of β to become biased. Generally, the form of bias is an attenuation, meaning that the effects are biased toward zero.
A large number of procedures have been developed for parameter estimation and inference in linear regression. These methods differ in computational simplicity of algorithms, presence of a closed-form solution, robustness with respect to heavy-tailed distributions, and theoretical assumptions needed to validate desirable statistical properties such as consistency and asymptotic efficiency.
Some of the more common estimation techniques for linear regression are summarized below.
Assuming that the independent variable is and the model's parameters are , then the model's prediction would be
If is extended to then would become a dot product of the parameter and the independent variable, i.e.
In the least-squares setting, the optimum parameter is defined as such that minimizes the sum of mean squared loss:
Now putting the independent and dependent variables in matrices and respectively, the loss function can be rewritten as:
As the loss is convex the optimum solution lies at gradient zero. The gradient of the loss function is (using Denominator layout convention):
Setting the gradient to zero produces the optimum parameter:
Note: To prove that the obtained is indeed the local minimum, one needs to differentiate once more to obtain the Hessian matrix and show that it is positive definite. This is provided by the Gauss–Markov theorem.
Linear least squares methods include mainly:
Linear regression is widely used in biological, behavioral and social sciences to describe possible relationships between variables. It ranks as one of the most important tools used in these disciplines.
A trend line represents a trend, the long-term movement in time series data after other components have been accounted for. It tells whether a particular data set (say GDP, oil prices or stock prices) have increased or decreased over the period of time. A trend line could simply be drawn by eye through a set of data points, but more properly their position and slope is calculated using statistical techniques like linear regression. Trend lines typically are straight lines, although some variations use higher degree polynomials depending on the degree of curvature desired in the line.
Trend lines are sometimes used in business analytics to show changes in data over time. This has the advantage of being simple. Trend lines are often used to argue that a particular action or event (such as training, or an advertising campaign) caused observed changes at a point in time. This is a simple technique, and does not require a control group, experimental design, or a sophisticated analysis technique. However, it suffers from a lack of scientific validity in cases where other potential changes can affect the data.
Early evidence relating tobacco smoking to mortality and morbidity came from observational studies employing regression analysis. In order to reduce spurious correlations when analyzing observational data, researchers usually include several variables in their regression models in addition to the variable of primary interest. For example, in a regression model in which cigarette smoking is the independent variable of primary interest and the dependent variable is lifespan measured in years, researchers might include education and income as additional independent variables, to ensure that any observed effect of smoking on lifespan is not due to those other socio-economic factors. However, it is never possible to include all possible confounding variables in an empirical analysis. For example, a hypothetical gene might increase mortality and also cause people to smoke more. For this reason, randomized controlled trials are often able to generate more compelling evidence of causal relationships than can be obtained using regression analyses of observational data. When controlled experiments are not feasible, variants of regression analysis such as instrumental variables regression may be used to attempt to estimate causal relationships from observational data.
The capital asset pricing model uses linear regression as well as the concept of beta for analyzing and quantifying the systematic risk of an investment. This comes directly from the beta coefficient of the linear regression model that relates the return on the investment to the return on all risky assets.
Linear regression is the predominant empirical tool in economics. For example, it is used to predict consumption spending,fixed investment spending, inventory investment, purchases of a country's exports, spending on imports, the demand to hold liquid assets, labor demand, and labor supply.
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Linear regression finds application in a wide range of environmental science applications. In Canada, the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program uses statistical analyses on fish and benthic surveys to measure the effects of pulp mill or metal mine effluent on the aquatic ecosystem.
Linear regression plays an important role in the subfield of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. The linear regression algorithm is one of the fundamental supervised machine-learning algorithms due to its relative simplicity and well-known properties.
Least squares linear regression, as a means of finding a good rough linear fit to a set of points was performed by Legendre (1805) and Gauss (1809) for the prediction of planetary movement. Quetelet was responsible for making the procedure well-known and for using it extensively in the social sciences.
In statistics, the term linear model is used in different ways according to the context. The most common occurrence is in connection with regression models and the term is often taken as synonymous with linear regression model. However, the term is also used in time series analysis with a different meaning. In each case, the designation "linear" is used to identify a subclass of models for which substantial reduction in the complexity of the related statistical theory is possible.
The method of least squares is a standard approach in regression analysis to approximate the solution of overdetermined systems by minimizing the sum of the squares of the residuals made in the results of each individual equation.
In statistics, the Gauss–Markov theorem states that the ordinary least squares (OLS) estimator has the lowest sampling variance within the class of linear unbiased estimators, if the errors in the linear regression model are uncorrelated, have equal variances and expectation value of zero. The errors do not need to be normal, nor do they need to be independent and identically distributed. The requirement that the estimator be unbiased cannot be dropped, since biased estimators exist with lower variance. See, for example, the James–Stein estimator, ridge regression, or simply any degenerate estimator.
In statistics, the logistic model is a statistical model that models the probability of an event taking place by having the log-odds for the event be a linear combination of one or more independent variables. In regression analysis, logistic regression is estimating the parameters of a logistic model. Formally, in binary logistic regression there is a single binary dependent variable, coded by an indicator variable, where the two values are labeled "0" and "1", while the independent variables can each be a binary variable or a continuous variable. The corresponding probability of the value labeled "1" can vary between 0 and 1, hence the labeling; the function that converts log-odds to probability is the logistic function, hence the name. The unit of measurement for the log-odds scale is called a logit, from logistic unit, hence the alternative names. See § Background and § Definition for formal mathematics, and § Example for a worked example.
In statistics, a generalized linear model (GLM) is a flexible generalization of ordinary linear regression. The GLM generalizes linear regression by allowing the linear model to be related to the response variable via a link function and by allowing the magnitude of the variance of each measurement to be a function of its predicted value.
In statistical modeling, regression analysis is a set of statistical processes for estimating the relationships between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables. The most common form of regression analysis is linear regression, in which one finds the line that most closely fits the data according to a specific mathematical criterion. For example, the method of ordinary least squares computes the unique line that minimizes the sum of squared differences between the true data and that line. For specific mathematical reasons, this allows the researcher to estimate the conditional expectation of the dependent variable when the independent variables take on a given set of values. Less common forms of regression use slightly different procedures to estimate alternative location parameters or estimate the conditional expectation across a broader collection of non-linear models.
The general linear model or general multivariate regression model is a compact way of simultaneously writing several multiple linear regression models. In that sense it is not a separate statistical linear model. The various multiple linear regression models may be compactly written as
In statistics, nonlinear regression is a form of regression analysis in which observational data are modeled by a function which is a nonlinear combination of the model parameters and depends on one or more independent variables. The data are fitted by a method of successive approximations.
In statistics, multicollinearity is a phenomenon in which one predictor variable in a multiple regression model can be linearly predicted from the others with a substantial degree of accuracy. In this situation, the coefficient estimates of the multiple regression may change erratically in response to small changes in the model or the data. Multicollinearity does not reduce the predictive power or reliability of the model as a whole, at least within the sample data set; it only affects calculations regarding individual predictors. That is, a multivariate regression model with collinear predictors can indicate how well the entire bundle of predictors predicts the outcome variable, but it may not give valid results about any individual predictor, or about which predictors are redundant with respect to others.
In statistics, a probit model is a type of regression where the dependent variable can take only two values, for example married or not married. The word is a portmanteau, coming from probability + unit. The purpose of the model is to estimate the probability that an observation with particular characteristics will fall into a specific one of the categories; moreover, classifying observations based on their predicted probabilities is a type of binary classification model.
In statistics, ordinary least squares (OLS) is a type of linear least squares method for choosing the unknown parameters in a linear regression model by the principle of least squares: minimizing the sum of the squares of the differences between the observed dependent variable in the input dataset and the output of the (linear) function of the independent variable.
Weighted least squares (WLS), also known as weighted linear regression, is a generalization of ordinary least squares and linear regression in which knowledge of the variance of observations is incorporated into the regression. WLS is also a specialization of generalized least squares.
In statistics, generalized least squares (GLS) is a technique for estimating the unknown parameters in a linear regression model when there is a certain degree of correlation between the residuals in a regression model. In these cases, ordinary least squares and weighted least squares can be statistically inefficient, or even give misleading inferences. GLS was first described by Alexander Aitken in 1936.
In statistics, binomial regression is a regression analysis technique in which the response has a binomial distribution: it is the number of successes in a series of independent Bernoulli trials, where each trial has probability of success . In binomial regression, the probability of a success is related to explanatory variables: the corresponding concept in ordinary regression is to relate the mean value of the unobserved response to explanatory variables.
In statistics, Bayesian multivariate linear regression is a Bayesian approach to multivariate linear regression, i.e. linear regression where the predicted outcome is a vector of correlated random variables rather than a single scalar random variable. A more general treatment of this approach can be found in the article MMSE estimator.
In statistics, the projection matrix, sometimes also called the influence matrix or hat matrix, maps the vector of response values to the vector of fitted values. It describes the influence each response value has on each fitted value. The diagonal elements of the projection matrix are the leverages, which describe the influence each response value has on the fitted value for that same observation.
In statistics, polynomial regression is a form of regression analysis in which the relationship between the independent variable x and the dependent variable y is modelled as an nth degree polynomial in x. Polynomial regression fits a nonlinear relationship between the value of x and the corresponding conditional mean of y, denoted E(y |x). Although polynomial regression fits a nonlinear model to the data, as a statistical estimation problem it is linear, in the sense that the regression function E(y | x) is linear in the unknown parameters that are estimated from the data. For this reason, polynomial regression is considered to be a special case of multiple linear regression.
Linear least squares (LLS) is the least squares approximation of linear functions to data. It is a set of formulations for solving statistical problems involved in linear regression, including variants for ordinary (unweighted), weighted, and generalized (correlated) residuals. Numerical methods for linear least squares include inverting the matrix of the normal equations and orthogonal decomposition methods.
In statistics, the class of vector generalized linear models (VGLMs) was proposed to enlarge the scope of models catered for by generalized linear models (GLMs). In particular, VGLMs allow for response variables outside the classical exponential family and for more than one parameter. Each parameter can be transformed by a link function. The VGLM framework is also large enough to naturally accommodate multiple responses; these are several independent responses each coming from a particular statistical distribution with possibly different parameter values.
In statistics, particularly regression analysis, the Working–Hotelling procedure, named after Holbrook Working and Harold Hotelling, is a method of simultaneous estimation in linear regression models. One of the first developments in simultaneous inference, it was devised by Working and Hotelling for the simple linear regression model in 1929. It provides a confidence region for multiple mean responses, that is, it gives the upper and lower bounds of more than one value of a dependent variable at several levels of the independent variables at a certain confidence level. The resulting confidence bands are known as the Working–Hotelling–Scheffé confidence bands.
A simple regression equation has on the right hand side an intercept and an explanatory variable with a slope coefficient. A multiple regression e right hand side, each with its own slope coefficient
Regression analysis ... is probably one of the oldest topics in mathematical statistics dating back to about two hundred years ago. The earliest form of the linear regression was the least squares method, which was published by Legendre in 1805, and by Gauss in 1809 ... Legendre and Gauss both applied the method to the problem of determining, from astronomical observations, the orbits of bodies about the sun.