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Advantages of Linear Least Squares

Linear least squares regression has earned its place as the primary tool for process modeling because of its effectiveness and completeness.

Though there are types of data that are better described by functions that are nonlinear in the parameters, many processes in science and engineering are well-described by linear models. This is because either the processes are inherently linear or because, over short ranges, any process can be well-approximated by a linear model.

The estimates of the unknown parameters obtained from linear least squares regression are the optimal estimates from a broad class of possible parameter estimates under the usual assumptions used for process modeling. Practically speaking, linear least squares regression makes very efficient use of the data. Good results can be obtained with relatively small data sets.

Finally, the theory associated with linear regression is well-understood and allows for construction of different types of easily-interpretable statistical intervals for predictions, calibrations, and optimizations. These statistical intervals can then be used to give clear answers to scientific and engineering questions.

Disadvantages of Linear Least Squares

The main disadvantages of linear least squares are limitations in the shapes that linear models can assume over long ranges, possibly poor extrapolation properties, and sensitivity to outliers.

Linear models with nonlinear terms in the predictor variables curve relatively slowly, so for inherently nonlinear processes it becomes increasingly difficult to find a linear model that fits the data well as the range of the data increases. As the explanatory variables become extreme, the output of the linear model will also always more extreme. This means that linear models may not be effective for extrapolating the results of a process for which data cannot be collected in the region of interest. Of course extrapolation is potentially dangerous regardless of the model type.

Finally, while the method of least squares often gives optimal estimates of the unknown parameters, it is very sensitive to the presence of unusual data points in the data used to fit a model. One or two outliers can sometimes seriously skew the results of a least squares analysis. This makes model validation, especially with respect to outliers, critical to obtaining sound answers to the questions motivating the construction of the model.

Why do we need numerical Integration?


There are two main reasons for you to need to do numerical integration: Analytical integration may be impossible or infeasible, Or you may wish to integrate tabulated data rather than known functions.