Bayesian Linear Regression Made Simple with Python Code

Linear regression is a widely used statistical modeling technique for understanding the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables. However, traditional linear regression models can have limitations, such as the inability to incorporate prior knowledge or assumptions about the data. Bayesian linear regression offers a solution by allowing for the integration of prior knowledge and quantifying uncertainty in the model.

In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of Bayesian linear regression, including its definition, how it works, and its advantages over traditional linear regression.

What is Bayesian Linear Regression?

Bayesian linear regression is a statistical technique that utilizes Bayesian methods to estimate the parameters of a linear regression model. In Bayesian linear regression, we assume that the regression coefficients have a prior probability distribution, which is updated based on the observed data to produce a posterior probability distribution.

The primary distinction between Bayesian linear regression and traditional linear regression is that Bayesian linear regression enables the incorporation of prior knowledge or assumptions about the data into the model. This can be especially useful when data is limited or when we want to incorporate expert knowledge into the model.

How does Bayesian Linear Regression work?

Bayesian linear regression begins with a prior distribution that represents our prior beliefs or assumptions about the data. The prior distribution can be based on previous data or expert knowledge. We update the prior distribution based on the observed data to obtain a posterior distribution.

To update the prior distribution, we use Bayes’ theorem, which states that the posterior probability is proportional to the likelihood of the data given the model and the prior probability of the model. In other words, we multiply the prior distribution by the likelihood of the data to obtain the posterior distribution.

The likelihood function in Bayesian linear regression is identical to that of traditional linear regression. It represents the probability of observing the data given the model and the parameter values. However, in Bayesian linear regression, the parameter values have a prior probability distribution.

Advantages of Bayesian Linear Regression

Bayesian linear regression offers several advantages over traditional linear regression. One of the most significant advantages is the ability to incorporate prior knowledge or assumptions about the data into the model. This can be particularly useful when data is limited or when we want to incorporate expert knowledge into the model.

Another advantage of Bayesian linear regression is that it provides a natural way to quantify uncertainty. In traditional linear regression, we only obtain a point estimate of the parameter values. In Bayesian linear regression, we obtain a probability distribution over the parameter values, allowing us to calculate the probability of various parameter values.

Bayesian linear regression also enables model selection by comparing the posterior probability of different models. This can be useful when we have several models that can explain the data, and we want to choose the one that is most likely given the data and our prior knowledge.

Bayesian linear regression using scikit-learn (sklearn) library in Python

Here’s an example of how to perform Bayesian linear regression using scikit-learn (sklearn) library in Python:

from sklearn.linear_model import BayesianRidge
import numpy as np

# create example data
X = np.array([[0, 1], [1, 3], [2, 5], [3, 7], [4, 9]])
y = np.array([1, 3, 5, 7, 9])

# create Bayesian Ridge regression model
model = BayesianRidge()

# fit the model to the data
model.fit(X, y)

# make predictions on new data
new_X = np.array([[5, 11], [6, 13], [7, 15]])
y_pred = model.predict(new_X)

print("Coefficients: ", model.coef_)
print("Intercept: ", model.intercept_)
print("Predictions: ", y_pred)

Let’s go through the code line by line:

from sklearn.linear_model import BayesianRidge
import numpy as np

We start by importing the necessary libraries, including BayesianRidge from the sklearn.linear_model module and numpy as np.

X = np.array([[0, 1], [1, 3], [2, 5], [3, 7], [4, 9]])
y = np.array([1, 3, 5, 7, 9])

Next, we create some example data for the model to be fit on. X is a numpy array of shape (5, 2) where each row represents a sample, and the two columns represent the independent variables. y is a numpy array of shape (5,) and represents the dependent variable.

model = BayesianRidge()

Here, we create an instance of the BayesianRidge class, which is a Bayesian linear regression model.

model.fit(X, y)

We fit the model to the data using the fit method of the BayesianRidge object. This step involves estimating the model parameters using the input data.

new_X = np.array([[5, 11], [6, 13], [7, 15]])
y_pred = model.predict(new_X)

Now that the model is fit, we can use it to make predictions on new data. Here, we create a new numpy array new_X of shape (3, 2) to represent three new samples with two independent variables each. We then use the predict method of the BayesianRidge object to predict the corresponding dependent variable for each of the new samples. The predictions are stored in y_pred.

print("Coefficients: ", model.coef_)
print("Intercept: ", model.intercept_)
print("Predictions: ", y_pred)

Finally, we print out the estimated coefficients and intercept of the model using model.coef_ and model.intercept_, respectively. We also print out the predicted values for the new data using y_pred.

In this example, we first create some example data with two independent variables and a dependent variable. Then, we create a BayesianRidge object and fit it to the data using the fit method. Finally, we use the predict method to make predictions on new data and print out the coefficients, intercept, and predictions.

Note that in this example, we did not specify any prior distributions for the model parameters, so the model used default priors. However, in practice, you may want to specify your own priors based on your prior knowledge or assumptions about the data.

Conclusion

Bayesian linear regression is a powerful statistical technique that offers several advantages over traditional linear regression. By allowing us to incorporate prior knowledge or assumptions about the data into the model and quantify uncertainty, Bayesian linear regression is especially useful when data is limited or when expert knowledge is available. With its ability to perform model selection, Bayesian linear regression can be a valuable tool for data scientists and researchers.

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