Linear Regression Using Python Statsmodel Library

5 minute read


In statsmodel package in Python, there are various built-in functions for statistical analysis. Linear regression is a statistical model that finds the linear relationships between feature variables and a target variable. Since linear regression models provide the coefficients of each feature variable that indicates the magnitude of impacting the target variable, given other variables. Therefore, it enables the explanations of which feature variables are associated with the target variable. While sklearn package in Python also provides the linear regression built-in function, it is not suitable for statistical analysis, since the confidence intervals and p-values of feature coefficients are not easy to obtain.

I implemented a script that fits a linear regression model using statsmodel package. Before feeding the feature variables into a linear regression model, three things need to be done: 1) Variance inflation factor analysis, 2) standardization, and 3) log-transformation. The following packages are needed:

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import statsmodels.api as sm
import statsmodels.stats.outliers_influence import variance_inflation_factor
from sklearn.preprocessing import scale

Variance inflation factor (VIF) analysis

Variance inflation factor analysis is required to remove the possible multicolinearity problem. Multicolinearity is more than one feature variables are correlated with each other. This is the basic assumption of linear regression that all feature variables are independent. VIF measures the amount of multicolinearity of a feature variable with other variables. Therefore, if VIF value is big for a feature variable, it means that this variable is highly correlated with other variables, thus should be removed from the model.

The formula of VIF of a feature variable is as follows:

is the coefficient of determination (also known as R-squared), which measures how one variable can be explained by other variables. The range of is between 0.0 and 1.0, and means that other variables failed to predict the variable at all, where means that other variables perfectly fit the variable with the perfect predictions. Therefore, if is big, it means that other variables are highly correlated with the variable , giving much bigger value for VIF.

In the following code, I used statsmodel package variance_inflation_factor built-in function to calculate the VIF for every feature variable and remove the variable if VIF value is greater than 10.0 (which is common threshold value). This is repeated while none of the feature variables have the VIF over 10.0.

def vif(X, threshold=10.0):
    - X: the dataframe of features of size (N x f), where N is the number of instances 
         and f is the number of feature variables.
    - threshold: the float number to set as the cutoff of VIF values for removing feature variables 
         with multi-colinearity. The default is 10.0.
  Output: dataframe of features after removing high-VIF variables.
  while dropped:
    variables = X.columns
     dropped = False
     vif = [variance_inflation_factor(X[variables].values, X.columns.get_loc(var)) for var in X.columns]
     max_vif = max(vif)
     if max_vif > threshold:
      max_index = vif.index(max_vif)
      X = X.drop([X.columns.tolist()[max_index]], axis=1)
  return X


The next step is to standardize all feature variables. Some feature variables have wide range of values in case of continuous variables, while some feature variables have very small value ranges. This might cause some problems because a feature variable with a wide value range might influence the model more than other variables. For example, assume there are two feature variables, annual income and the number of family members in predicting the annual household expense. The annual income values might be very wide with the minimum value of 0 and the maximum value of billions or trillions of dollars! But the range of the number of family members is limited, mostly less than 10. If we use the raw feature values, the income features might influence the model a lot. Therefore, we need to standardize the feature vectors to have the similar ranges of values. There are many ways of standardization, but I usually use mean-zero standardization method that shifts the variables to be centered around 0 with 2-standard deviation.

In the following code, I used the scale built-in function from sklearn package. The input X is the numpy array that contains all the feature variables.

X_scaled = scale(X)


The final step to check before fitting the linear regression model is the log-transform any highly skewed variables. This step is required because the basic assumption of linear regression is the normal distribution of variables. High skewness of variables might result in invalid statistical tests. In the following code, I used natural log transformation to make right-skewed variables into normal distribution. The input skewed_X is the numpy array that only contains the highly skewed feature variables.

X_transformed = np.log(skewed_X + 1) # added 1 in case of zero values.

Linear regression

After the above three steps are done, we can now fit the linear regression model. The following code implements the linear regression model function.

def linear_regression(df, feature_names, target_name, write_filename):
    - df: dataframe that contains both features and target variables to be used for linear regression model.
    - feature_names: list of feature variable names
    - target_name: a string that contains the target variable name
    - write_filename: a string of the filename for exporting the modeling result.

  Output: trained linear regression model
  formula = "{} ~ {}".format(target_name, "+".join(feature_names))
  model = smf.ols(formula=formula, data=df).fit()
  # export model fit to csv file
  with open("/results/{}.csv".format(write_filename), "w") as fh:
  return model