Ridge Regression

What is Ridge Regression?

Ridge regression, also known as Tikhonov regularization, is a technique used for analyzing multiple regression data that suffer from multicollinearity. When multicollinearity occurs, least squares estimates are unbiased, but their variances are large, and they may be far from the true value. By adding a degree of bias to the regression estimates, ridge regression reduces the standard errors.

The main idea behind ridge regression is to find a new line that doesn't fit the training data as well. In other words, it introduces a small amount of bias into how the new line fits the data. This trade-off between bias and variance is what allows ridge regression to achieve better long-term predictions.

Mathematics Behind Ridge Regression

Ridge regression addresses the problem of multicollinearity (independent variables that are highly correlated) in linear regression models. Multicollinearity can lead to skewed or inflated estimates of the regression coefficients, which can affect the interpretation of the model. Ridge regression solves this problem by adding a penalty term to the ordinary least squares (OLS) equation.

The ridge regression estimator is given by the formula:

Beta(hat) = (X'X + lambda*I)^(-1)X'y


  • X is the matrix of input features,
  • y

    is the vector of target values,

  • lambda is the regularization parameter,
  • I

    is the identity matrix, and

  • Beta(hat) is the vector of estimated coefficients.

The regularization parameter (lambda) imposes a penalty on the size of the coefficients. As lambda increases, the flexibility of the ridge regression model decreases, leading to decreased variance but increased bias.

Choosing the Regularization Parameter

Choosing the right value for the regularization parameter (lambda) is critical in ridge regression. If lambda is too large, the model can become too biased and underfit the data. Conversely, if lambda is too small, the model will behave similarly to a standard linear regression model and overfit the data.

One common method for selecting lambda is cross-validation. Cross-validation involves dividing the dataset into a number of subsets, fitting the model to some subsets while using the remaining subsets as validation data to compute a measure of model performance, such as mean squared error (MSE). The lambda value that minimizes the cross-validation error is typically chosen.

Advantages of Ridge Regression

  • It reduces model complexity and prevents overfitting which may result from simple linear regression.
  • It is biased but has lower variance than the least squares estimator.
  • It can handle multicollinearity well, which ordinary least squares cannot.
  • It can handle situations where the number of variables exceeds the number of observations.

Disadvantages of Ridge Regression

  • It includes all the predictors in the final model, unlike stepwise regression methods which will exclude non-significant variables.
  • The selection of a good lambda value is crucial and can be complex without cross-validation techniques.
  • It can shrink the coefficients toward zero, but it will not set any of them exactly to zero (which would effectively remove them from the model).

Applications of Ridge Regression

Ridge regression is widely used in the field of machine learning and statistics to build predictive models when the data includes multicollinear independent variables. It is also used in the field of finance to optimize portfolio allocation, in engineering for signal processing, and in many other areas where predictive accuracy is more important than interpretability.


Ridge regression is a powerful technique for creating more stable and predictive models when dealing with multicollinearity in regression analysis. By introducing a small amount of bias, ridge regression can significantly reduce variance and improve the prediction performance of a model. The key to successful ridge regression analysis is selecting the appropriate regularization parameter, which can be achieved through cross-validation. Despite its limitations, ridge regression is a valuable tool for statisticians and data scientists seeking to build robust predictive models.

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset