Understanding Polynomial Regression Model

Premanand S 13 Feb, 2024 • 9 min read

Hello there, guys! Good day, everyone! Today, we’ll look at Polynomial Regression, a fascinating approach in Machine Learning. For understanding Polynomial Regression Model, we’ll go over several fundamental terms including Machine Learning, Supervised Learning, and the distinction between regression and classification. Let’s explore polynomial regression model in detail!

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon

Supervised Machine Learning

In supervised learning, algorithms are trained using labeled datasets, and they learn about each input category. We evaluate the approach using test data (a subset of the training set) and predict outcomes after completing the training phase. There are two types of supervised machine learning:

  • Classification
  • Regression

Classification vs Regression

Predicting continuous variablesCategorizing output variables
Weather forecasting, market trendsGender classification, disease diagnosis
Links input and continuous outputCategorizes input into classes

Why Do we Need Regression?

Regression analysis is helpful in performing following tasks:

  • Forecasting the value of the dependent variable for those who have knowledge of the explanatory components
  • Assessing the influence of an explanatory variable on the dependent variable

What is Polynomial Regression?

In polynomial regression, we describe the relationship between the independent variable x and the dependent variable y using an nth-degree polynomial in x. Polynomial regression, denoted as E(y | x), characterizes fitting a nonlinear relationship between the x value and the conditional mean of y. Typically, this corresponds to the least-squares method. The least-square approach minimizes the coefficient variance according to the Gauss-Markov Theorem. This represents a type of Linear Regression where the dependent and independent variables exhibit a curvilinear relationship and the polynomial equation is fitted to the data.

We will delve deeper into this concept later in the article. Machine learning is also a subset of Multiple Linear Regression, achieved by incorporating additional polynomial elements into the equation, transforming it into a Polynomial Regression equation.

Types of Polynomial Regression

A quadratic equation is a general term for a second-degree polynomial equation. This degree, on the other hand, can go up to nth values. Here is the categorization of Polynomial Regression:

  1. Linear – if degree as 1
  2. Quadratic – if degree as 2
  3. Cubic – if degree as 3 and goes on, on the basis of degree.
Polynomial regression categorization

Assumption of Polynomial Regression

We cannot process all of the datasets and use polynomial regression machine learning to make a better judgment. We can still do it, but there should be specific constraints for the dataset in order to get the best polynomial regression results.

  • A dependent variable’s behaviour can be described by a linear, or curved, an additive link between the dependent variable and a set of k independent factors.
  • The independent variables lack any interrelationship.
  • We employ datasets featuring independently distributed errors with a normal distribution, having a mean of zero and a constant variance.

Simple Math to Understand Polynomial Regression

Here we are dealing with mathematics, rather than going deep, just understand the basic structure, we all know the equation of a linear equation will be a straight line, from that if we have many features then we opt for multiple regression just increasing features part alone, then how about polynomial, it’s not about increasing but changing the structure to a quadratic equation, you can visually understand from the diagram:

Maths behind Polynomial Regression

Linear Regression vs Polynomial Regression

Rather than focusing on the distinctions between linear and polynomial regression, we may comprehend the importance of polynomial regression by starting with linear regression. We build our model and realize that it performs abysmally. We examine the difference between the actual value and the best fit line we predicted, and it appears that the true value has a curve on the graph, but our line is nowhere near cutting the mean of the points. This is where polynomial regression comes into play; it predicts the best-fit line that matches the pattern of the data (curve).

One important distinction between Linear and Polynomial Regression is that Polynomial Regression does not require a linear relationship between the independent and dependent variables in the data set. When the Linear Regression Model fails to capture the points in the data and the Linear Regression fails to adequately represent the optimum, then we use Polynomial Regression.

Before delving into the topic, let us first understand why we prefer Polynomial Regression over Linear Regression in some situations, say the non-linear condition of the dataset, by programming and visualization.

Python Code

Let’s analyze random data using Regression Analysis:

x = x[:, np.newaxis]
 y = y[:, np.newaxis]
 model = LinearRegression()
 model.fit(x, y)

y_pred = model.predict(x)
plt.scatter(x, y, s=10)
plt.plot(x, y_pred, color='r')
Scatter plot

The straight line is unable to capture the patterns in the data. This is an example of under-fitting.

Let’s look at it from a technical standpoint, using measures like Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) and discrimination coefficient (R2). The RMSE indicates how well a regression model can predict the response variable’s value in absolute terms, whereas the R2 indicates how well a model can predict the response variable’s value in percentage terms.

import sklearn.metrics as metrics
mse = metrics.mean_squared_error(x,y)
rmse = np.sqrt(mse) 
r2 = metrics.r2_score(x,y)

print('RMSE value:',rmse)
print('R2 value:',r2)

RMSE value: 93.47170875128153
R2 value: -786.2378753237103

Non-linear data in Polynomial Regression

We need to enhance the model’s complexity to overcome under-fitting. In this sense, we need to make linear analyzes in a non-linear way, statistically by using Polynomial,

Non-linear data – Polynomial Regression

Because the weights associated with the features are still linear, this is still a linear model. x2 (x square) is only a function. However, the curve we’re trying to fit is quadratic in nature.

Let’s see visually the above concept for better understanding, a picture speaks louder and stronger than words,

from sklearn.preprocessing import PolynomialFeatures
polynomial_features1 = PolynomialFeatures(degree=2)
x_poly1 = polynomial_features1.fit_transform(x)
model1 = LinearRegression()
model1.fit(x_poly1, y)
y_poly_pred1 = model1.predict(x_poly1)

from sklearn.metrics import mean_squared_error, r2_score
rmse1 = np.sqrt(mean_squared_error(y,y_poly_pred1))
r21 = r2_score(y,y_poly_pred1)


The figure clearly shows that the quadratic curve can better match the data than the linear line.

import operator
plt.scatter(x, y, s=10)
# sort the values of x before line plot
sort_axis = operator.itemgetter(0)
sorted_zip = sorted(zip(x,y_poly_pred), key=sort_axis)
x, y_poly_pred1 = zip(*sorted_zip)
plt.plot(x, y_poly_pred1, color='m')
quadratic curve
polynomial_features2= PolynomialFeatures(degree=3)
x_poly2 = polynomial_features2.fit_transform(x)
model2 = LinearRegression()
model2.fit(x_poly2, y)
y_poly_pred2 = model2.predict(x_poly2)

rmse2 = np.sqrt(mean_squared_error(y,y_poly_pred2))
r22 = r2_score(y,y_poly_pred2)


plt.scatter(x, y, s=10)
# sort the values of x before line plot
sort_axis = operator.itemgetter(0)
sorted_zip = sorted(zip(x,y_poly_pred2), key=sort_axis)
x, y_poly_pred2 = zip(*sorted_zip)
plt.plot(x, y_poly_pred2, color='m')
Scatter plot for Polynomial Regression
polynomial_features3= PolynomialFeatures(degree=4)
x_poly3 = polynomial_features3.fit_transform(x)
model3 = LinearRegression()
model3.fit(x_poly3, y)
y_poly_pred3 = model3.predict(x_poly3)

rmse3 = np.sqrt(mean_squared_error(y,y_poly_pred3))
r23 = r2_score(y,y_poly_pred3)


plt.scatter(x, y, s=10)

# sort the values of x before line plot

sort_axis = operator.itemgetter(0)

sorted_zip = sorted(zip(x,y_poly_pred3), key=sort_axis)

x, y_poly_pred3 = zip(*sorted_zip)

plt.plot(x, y_poly_pred3, color='m')

Scatter plot

In comparison to the linear line, we can observe that RMSE has dropped and R2-score has increased.

Overfitting vs Under-fitting

We keep on increasing the degree, we will see the best result, but there comes the over-fitting problem, if we get r2 value for a particular value shows 100.

When analyzing a dataset linearly, we encounter an under-fitting problem

Polynomial regression can correct this.

However, when fine-tuning the degree parameter to the optimal value, we encounter an over-fitting problem, resulting in a 100 per cent r2 value. The conclusion is that we must avoid both overfitting and underfitting issues.

Note: To avoid over-fitting, we can increase the number of training samples so that the algorithm does not learn the system’s noise and becomes more generalized.

Bias vs Variance Tradeoff

How do we pick the best model? To address this question, we must first comprehend the trade-off between bias and variance.

The mistake is due to the model’s simple assumptions in fitting the data is referred to as bias. A high bias indicates that the model is unable to capture data patterns, resulting in under-fitting.

The mistake caused by the complicated model trying to match the data is referred to as variance. When a model has a high variance, it passes over the majority of the data points, causing the data to overfit.

From the above program, when degree is 1 which means in linear regression, it shows underfitting which means high bias and low variance. And when we get r2 value 100, which means low bias and high variance, which means overfitting

As the model complexity grows, the bias reduces while the variance increases, and vice versa. A machine learning model should, in theory, have minimal variance and bias. However, having both is nearly impossible. As a result, a trade-off must be made in order to build a strong model that performs well on both train and unseen data.

Bias Vs Variance Tradeoff

Degree – How to Find the Right One?

We need to find the right degree of polynomial parameter, in order to avoid overfitting and underfitting problems:

  • Forward selection: increase the degree parameter till you get the optimal result
  • Backward selection: decrease degree parameter till you get optimal

Loss and Cost Function – Polynomial Regression

The Cost Function is a function that evaluates a Machine Learning model’s performance for a given set of data. The Cost Function is a single real number that calculates the difference between anticipated and expected values. Many people dont know the differences between the Cost Function and the Loss Function. To put it another way, the Cost Function is the average of the n-sample error in the data, whereas the Loss Function is the error for individual data points. To put it another way, the Loss Function refers to a single training example, whereas the Cost Function refers to the complete training set.

The Mean Squared Error may also be used as the Cost Function of Polynomial regression; however, the equation will vary somewhat.

Loss and Cost function – Polynomial Regression

We now know that the Cost Function’s optimum value is 0 or a close approximation to 0. To get an optimal Cost Function, we may use Gradient Descent, which changes the weight and, as a result, reduces mistakes.

Gradient Descent – Polynomial Regression

Gradient descent is a method of determining the values of a function’s parameters (coefficients) in order to minimize a cost function (cost). It may decrease the Cost function (minimizing MSE value) and achieve the best fit line.

The values of slope (m) and slope-intercept (b) will be set to 0 at the start of the function, and the learning rate (α) will be introduced. The learning rate (α) is set to an extremely low number, perhaps between 0.01 and 0.0001. The learning rate is a tuning parameter in an optimization algorithm that sets the step size at each iteration as it moves toward the cost function’s minimum. The partial derivative is then determined in terms of m for the cost function equation, as well as derivatives with regard to the b.

Gradient Descent – Polynomial Regression

With the aid of the following equation, a and b are updated once the derivatives are determined. m and b’s derivatives are derived above and are α.

Gradient indicates the steepest climb of the loss function, but the steepest fall is the inverse of the gradient, which is why the gradient is subtracted from the weights (m and b). The process of updating the values of m and b continues until the cost function achieves or approaches the ideal value of 0. The current values of m and b will be the best fit line’s optimal value.

Practical Application of Polynomial Regression

We will start with importing the libraries:

#with dataset
import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import pandas as pd
dataset = pd.read_csv('Position_Salaries.csv')

Segregating the dataset into dependent and independent features,

X = dataset.iloc[:,1:2].values  
y = dataset.iloc[:,2].values

Then trying with linear regression,

from sklearn.linear_model import LinearRegression
lin_reg = LinearRegression()

Visually linear regression:

plt.scatter(X,y, color='red')
plt.plot(X, lin_reg.predict(X),color='blue')
plt.title("Truth or Bluff(Linear)")
plt.xlabel('Position level')
Plot for Linear Regression
from sklearn.preprocessing import PolynomialFeatures
poly_reg = PolynomialFeatures(degree=2)
X_poly = poly_reg.fit_transform(X)

lin_reg2 = LinearRegression()


Application of Polynomial Regression

This equation obtains the results in various experimental techniques. The independent and dependent variables have a well-defined connection.

  • Used to figure out what isotopes are present in sediments.
  • Utilized to look at the spread of various illnesses across a population
  • Research on creation of synthesis.

Advantage of Polynomial Regression

The best approximation of the connection between the dependent and independent variables is a polynomial. It can accommodate a wide range of functions. Polynomial is a type of curve that can accommodate a wide variety of curvatures.

Disadvantages of Polynomial Regression

One or two outliers in the data might have a significant impact on the nonlinear analysis’ outcomes. These are overly reliant on outliers. Furthermore, there are fewer model validation methods for detecting outliers in nonlinear regression than there are for linear regression.


Supervised machine learning encompasses classification and regression, with regression crucial for predicting continuous values. Polynomial Regression, a form of regression, captures complex relationships, requiring careful selection of degree to avoid overfitting or underfitting. Gradient descent optimizes polynomial models, finding practical applications across diverse fields despite inherent disadvantages.

Premanand S 13 Feb 2024

Learner, Assistant Professor Junior & Machine Learning enthusiast

Frequently Asked Questions

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit,

Responses From Readers


Related Courses

0 Hrs 24 Lessons

Fundamentals of Regression Analysis


  • [tta_listen_btn class="listen"]