What is Generalised additive models

Understanding Generalised Additive Models

As the field of artificial intelligence continues to evolve, many diverse models have been developed to address different task areas. One such model is the Generalised Additive Model. GAMs are a type of regression model, meaning they are used to predict the outcome of a variable based on one or more predictor variables. However, GAMs offer a distinct advantage over other regression models in their ability to handle non-linear relationships between predictor and outcome variables.

In this article, we will provide an overview of GAMs, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they are typically used in practice. We will also discuss some practical tips for implementing GAMs effectively.

What Are Generalised Additive Models?

Before we dive into the specifics of GAMs, it's important to first understand the basic concept of a regression model. Regression models are used to predict the value of a dependent variable based on one or more independent variables. The simplest form of a regression model is the linear regression model, which assumes that the relationship between the dependent and independent variables is linear. However, real-life relationships between variables are often more complex than a straight line.

GAMs offer a way to model these non-linear relationships. They do so by assuming that the output variable is a smooth function of the predictor variables. In other words, the model assumes that the relationship between the outcome and predictor variables can be represented by a curve rather than a straight line or simple polynomial. This curve can be formed by combining a set of smooth functions, each of which characterizes the relationship between one predictor variable and the outcome variable.

Moreover, GAMs can include both linear and non-linear terms in the model, offering significant flexibility. This makes GAMs an ideal modeling technique when the relationship between the response variable and predictor is not a straight line, and it can be impossible to model it through standard regression analysis.

Components of Generalised Additive Models

GAMs consist of three main components: a linear predictor, a set of smooth functions, and a probability distribution.

Linear Predictor:
  • The linear predictor is the component of the model that defines the linear effects of predictor variables.
  • It takes the form of a linear equation, with each predictor variable multiplied by a coefficient beta.
Smooth Functions:
  • The smooth functions are used to model the non-linear relationships between the predictor variables and outcome variable in the model.
  • The smooth functions are applied to each predictor variable, and they describe the shape and relationship between the variables and outcome.
  • The simplest example of these smooth functions is the cubic spline smoothing.
  • However, for better model performance, other non-parametric strategies could be adopted, such as kernel smoothing or local regression
Probability Distribution:
  • GAMs are an example of a generative model which uses a probability distribution to translate the non-linear relationships and linear effects of predictors into a probability distribution with a related error distribution, which is used for modeling and inference.
Advantages of Generalised Additive Models

GAMs offer several key benefits over other types of regression models:

  • They can be used to model non-linear effects that are difficult to capture with linear regression models.
  • Their non-linear nature allows them to capture complex relationships between multiple predictor variables and the outcome variable.
  • They are highly flexible and can be modified to fit a wide range of datasets and response variables.
  • They can handle missing data well. It is possible to incorporate known parameter values or prediction uncertainty into missing response values.
Application of Generalised Additive Models

GAMs are well-suited for a wide range of applications, some examples are:

  • Modeling environmental phenomena: GAMs could be used to model a study area's air quality, showing how it can be affected by various influences such as wind direction, day temperature, and precipitation.
  • Economic modeling: GAMs could be used to study the economic relationship between variables such as GDP, interest rates, and consumer behavior.
  • Health modeling: GAMs could be used to study the relationship between the effects of various medication doses and patient recovery rates.
  • Marketing Modeling: GAMs could be used to model relationships between advertisement spending and marketing performance.
Practical Tips for Using Generalised Additive Models

GAMs can be a highly effective tool for modeling non-linear relationships between predictor and outcome variables. To make the most of this modeling technique, there are several practical tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Choose appropriate smooth functions: Selecting the correct smoothing functions for the model is critical, as this will directly translate into the model performance.
  • Provide more data: GAM models' effectiveness improves as the amount of data they are provided with increases.
  • Feature Assessment: Variable selection and extraction from feature data. Feature selection methods could be employed to reduce redundant predictors to improve model performance.
  • Tune model hyperparameters: For better model performance, hyperparameters such as optimization functions, number of basis functions, or gamma need to be adjusted or tuned.
  • Avoid overfitting: GAMs can be prone to overfitting if the smoothing functions are too complex. Take care to ensure the right amount of smoothing in your model.
  • Interpretation of the model: GAMs' inherent flexibility often results in complex models, explainability could be added through the use of visualization techniques. Which can help developers understand their parameters and usefulness effectively. Conversely, one can use regularization methods to impose adjustable levels of regularization that will force sparsity or variable selection in the model.

Generalised Additive Models are powerful regression models that offer the capability to capture non-linear relationships between predictor and outcome variables. They are a great choice for applications where these characteristics exist, which can mean their use in fields such as economics, medical research, marketing, and environmental studies. By following the tips and best practices outlined in this article, you can ensure that your GAM models perform well and provide accurate predictions.