Adventures in Machine Learning

Improving Machine Learning Accuracy with Lasso Regression in Python

Introduction to Lasso Regression in Python

Regression analysis is one of the most commonly used statistical techniques in machine learning and data analysis. Lasso regression, also known as L1 regularization, is an algorithm that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

In essence, it helps to improve the accuracy of predictions and reduces the complexity of models.

This article aims to provide an introduction to lasso regression in Python.

We will start by defining lasso regression and exploring the limitations of linear regression. Next, we will delve into how lasso regression enhances the accuracy of models by penalizing the coefficients associated with predictor variables.

Finally, we will explore the use of hyperparameters in lasso regression.

Defining Lasso Regression

Lasso regression is an algorithm that utilizes the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (L1) penalty to select the most significant predictor variables and limit the complexity of a model. The L1 penalty ensures that the coefficient values of irrelevant or weakly correlated variables are shrunk to zero, removing them from the model.

Limitations of Linear Regression and the Need for Lasso Regression

Linear regression is a popular and widely used algorithm in statistical analysis. However, it has several limitations that lead to the need for more efficient algorithms, such as lasso regression.

One such limitation is the inability of the linear regression model to handle data where the number of predictor variables is more than the number of observations. This limitation causes instability and sensitivity in the coefficients of the model.

As a result, when small changes occur in the input features, the model results in a significant change, leading to the prediction of inaccurate data.

Lasso regression provides an efficient solution to reducing instability and sensitivity in linear regression models.

The algorithm introduces a penalty term to the loss function, which shrinks the magnitude of coefficients to zero. As a result, the algorithm reduces model complexity by eliminating irrelevant variables, solving the problem of sensitivity and instability.

Penalizing the Model with Lasso Regression

The Lasso penalty ensures that coefficients of weakly associated variables with the response variable get shrunk to zero. In other words, the Lasso algorithm helps to identify and zero-out the weak variables that do not have any predictive powers over the dependent variable.

The Lasso algorithm accomplishes this by placing an absolute constraint on the magnitude of the sum of their coefficients of predictor variables. A smaller coefficient value translates into less significance of the variable in predicting the dependent variable.

Lasso regression thus helps in improving models with high-dimensional input features by eliminating irrelevant variables and reducing overfitting.

Hyperparameter Lambda in Lasso Regression

The efficiency of lasso regression largely depends on the selection of lambda or hyperparameter values. Lambda controls the extent of penalization of the regression variables.

A higher lambda value leads to a higher degree of penalization, resulting in more variable coefficients being shrunk to zero, leading to a more straightforward and interpretable model. A lower lambda value, on the other hand, reduces the degree of penalization, leading to a more complex model.


In conclusion, lasso regression is an efficient and popular method of reducing instability and sensitivity of linear regression models while improving their accuracy. With the introduction of a penalty function, Lasso regression eliminates irrelevant features from the model, leading to a simpler and more interpretable model.

Moreover, the algorithm provides the analyst with the opportunity to enhance the model and introduce new variables. Hyperparameter Lambda values play a critical role in the effectiveness of Lasso regression.

Therefore, selecting a suitable value of lambda is important to balance between bias and variance. Python has several libraries such as Scikit-learn, Statsmodels, and PyCaret that provide built-in Lasso regression modeling functions, simplifying the application of Lasso regression.

Implementing Lasso Regression in Python

In our previous articles, we have examined the concept and applications of lasso regression. In this article, we will show how to implement lasso regression using Python.

Specifically, we will examine the preparation of the dataset, the splitting of data for training, and building and evaluating the lasso regression model in Python, with the help of the Scikit-learn package.

Dataset Preparation and Splitting

To demonstrate the implementation of lasso regression in Python, we will use an open-source bike rental dataset that consists of multiple independent variables. The dataset records the data of daily rental bikes of different weather conditions and other factors such as seasonality, holiday, and working day from Jan 1, 2011, to Dec 31, 2012.

To use the dataset in Python, we first load the dataset using the pandas library. The dataset can then be cleaned and preprocessed.

We can use techniques such as missing value imputation, outlier detection, and feature scaling to improve the data quality. After the data preprocessing, we can then split the data into training and testing datasets.

The function Train_test_split() from the Scikit-learn package is suitable for this purpose. It helps split the data into two groups randomly, one for training, and the other for testing.

The size of both groups can be customized based on user needs. Building and Evaluating Lasso Regression Model with sklearn.linear_model library

Scikit-learn is an open-source Python library for machine learning.

It has a rich and handy set of tools for data mining and data analysis. Its linear model package contains the relevant functions for building lasso regression models.

The Lasso function from the library sklearn.linear_model library is used to build the lasso regression model. The function takes the following parameters, alpha, which specifies the regularization strength and the training and testing data sets, i.e. X_train, y_train, X_test, and y_test as arguments.

X_train and y_train are column variables while X_test and y_test are row variables.

The alpha parameter is critical to lasso regression, as it helps to balance the trade-off between overfitting and underfitting in the model.

A lower value of alpha allows many variables to be kept in the final model, while a higher value of alpha makes more variables’ coefficient estimates shrink to zero. A perfect balance can be achieved through trial and error or through the use of cross-validation techniques such as the k-fold cross-validation.

The fit() function is used to estimate the coefficients for lasso regression and generates the predictive model. Once the model is built, the predict() function is used to predict the output value based on the input features provided in the test data.

To evaluate the model’s effectiveness, we can use the mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) as the performance metric. MAPE is used to measure how accurate the model predictions are.

MAPE calculates the percentage of the absolute difference between the predicted value and the actual value over the actual value. A lower value of MAPE indicates a more accurate model.

Potential for Further Inquiry

In conclusion, Lasso regression is a useful tool for feature selection, which can achieve higher accuracy and interpretability. Python provides a rich library of functions to build models and evaluate their effectiveness.

With the Scikit-learn package providing convenient implementation of lasso regression models, the potential for further investigation into machine learning and regression analysis is substantial. Further research could explore techniques to improve the accuracy of the model or experiment with different data sets, algorithms, and performance metrics.

Do you have any questions or comments about lasso regression in Python? In conclusion, implementing Lasso Regression in Python is a crucial skill for individuals looking to improve their machine learning and regression analysis abilities.

From dataset preparation and splitting to building and evaluating models with Scikit-learn, we have shown how to execute Lasso Regression in Python with ease. Our insight into the hyperparameter lambda shows how it allows for a balance between over and underfitting.

Remember that Scikit-learn simplifies data sets’ splitting, models building, and validation to facilitate the learning curve, making it easier to apply Lasso Regression to more data sets and further experiments.

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