Logistic Regression vs Linear Regression: A Complete Comparison Guide for 2024

Many machine learning algorithms operate under a framework where they learn from a dataset that includes both input features and their corresponding output values. These models are known as supervised learning algorithms, which are specifically designed to predict outcomes based on past data. The output of these models is confined to the types of outcomes theyve been trained on. Linear and Logistic Regression are the most prominent examples of supervised learning techniques.

In our comprehensive tutorial, Understanding the Difference between Linear vs. Logistic Regression, well explore how these algorithms function and their distinct characteristics and uses. This guide will provide a clear comparison, helping you grasp when and why to use each type of regression in practical scenarios.

Regression models are fundamental techniques in machine learning and data science used to predict outcomes and trends based on input data. Two of the most commonly used types are linear regression and logistic regression While their names sound similar, there are key differences between these two models – from the type of data they work with to their underlying equations.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about linear regression versus logistic regression By the end, you’ll understand their use cases, pros and cons, and how to determine which approach makes sense for your projects

A Quick Intro to Regression Models

First, what exactly are regression models?

Regression analysis focuses on identifying relationships and trends between input (or independent) variables and an output (dependent) variable. The goal is to develop an equation that accurately predicts the output based on changes in the inputs.

Some common examples of regression models are:

  • Simple linear regression – predicts a continuous output based on one input variable. Example: predicting house price from square footage.

  • Multiple linear regression – predicts a continuous output based on multiple input variables. Example: predicting salary based on experience, education level, location etc.

  • Logistic regression – predicts a categorical or binary output. Example: predicting if an email is spam or not based on words used, sender location etc.

The choice between linear and logistic regression depends on the type of output variable you want to predict.

Linear Regression Overview

Let’s start by taking a closer look at linear regression.

Linear regression assumes a linear relationship between the input variables and the output variable. It tries to fit a straight line through the data that minimizes the distance between the observed data points and the line.

The standard equation for a simple linear regression model is:

y = b0 + b1*x


  • y is the output variable
  • x is the input variable
  • b0 is the intercept (value of y when x is 0)
  • b1 is the slope (change in y for a one unit change in x)

For example, we could create a linear regression model that predicts house price (y) from square footage (x). B0 would be the baseline price when square footage is 0, and b1 would be the change in price for each additional square foot.

The slope and intercept are learned from the observed data during model training. Once trained, the line can be used to predict future y values for given x values.

Some key properties of linear regression:

  • Used for continuous, numerical output variables
  • Models linear relationships
  • Requires linearity assumption to be valid
  • Prone to overfitting with many input variables
  • Fast and simple to implement

Logistic Regression Overview

Now let’s look at logistic regression.

While linear regression outputs a continuous numeric value, logistic regression predicts a binary categorical outcome. For example, spam vs not spam, disease vs no disease, voted yes vs voted no.

The logistic regression model calculates the probability of an observation belonging to each category.

Under the hood, it uses the following sigmoid (logistic) function to squeeze predictions between 0 and 1:


probability = 1/ (1 + exp(-b0 - b1*x)) 


  • x is the input variable
  • b0 is the intercept
  • b1 is the coefficient

This transforms the linear output into a probability. The higher the probability, the more likely that outcome. A 50% probability indicates equal likelihood.

Key properties of logistic regression:

  • Predicts binary categorical outputs
  • Models probability of outcomes
  • Requires binary dependent variable
  • Useful for classification tasks
  • Prone to overfitting

Now that we’ve introduced both approaches, let’s directly compare linear and logistic regression across several factors:

Linear vs Logistic Regression: Key Differences

Type of Output Variable

  • Linear regression: Continuous numerical value (price, weight, height etc)
  • Logistic regression: Binary categorical value (yes/no, spam/not spam etc)


  • Linear regression: Predict values directly. Example: predict exact house price.
  • Logistic regression: Predict probability of outcomes. Example: Chance of email being spam.

Underlying Equation

  • Linear regression: Simple linear equation of a line.

  • Logistic regression: Sigmoid function to convert linear output into probability.

Model Type

  • Linear regression: Regression model.
  • Logistic regression: Classification model.

Loss Function

  • Linear regression: Ordinary Least Squares loss. Minimizes squared error.
  • Logistic regression: Log loss. Maximizes probability of correct outcomes.

Relationship Assumed

  • Linear regression: Assumes linear relationship between variables.
  • Logistic regression: Assumes linear relationship between log odds of outcomes.

Use Cases

  • Linear regression: Forecasting, predictions, trends analysis, numerical outcomes.
  • Logistic regression: Classification tasks, predicting likelihoods, binary outcomes.

When to Use Linear vs. Logistic Regression

How do you know which type of regression model to use for a given predictive modeling problem? Here are some guidelines:

Use Linear Regression When:

  • The output variable is continuous and numerical.
  • You want to directly predict values.
  • The relationship between variables appears linear.
  • Your goal is forecasting, prediction, or modeling trends.

Use Logistic Regression When:

  • The output variable is binary categorical.
  • You want to predict the probability or likelihood of outcomes.
  • Your goal is classification or categorization.
  • You need to model nonlinear relationships.

Here are some examples of when each approach would be appropriate:

  • Predicting house price (linear regression)
  • Classifying emails as spam or not spam (logistic regression)
  • Forecasting monthly sales numbers (linear regression)
  • Predicting likelihood a user will click an ad (logistic regression)
  • Estimating age based on demographic data (linear regression)
  • Detecting credit card fraud transactions (logistic regression)

The choice mainly comes down to whether your output variable is numerical or categorical. Logistic regression applies a nonlinear transform to make a classifier from linear regression.

Pros and Cons of Each Approach

Beyond their core differences, here are some general pros and cons to consider:

Linear Regression Pros

  • Simple and fast to implement
  • Easy to interpret coefficients
  • Model performance is easy to evaluate
  • Can extrapolate predictions beyond training data range

Linear Regression Cons

  • Requires linear relationship between variables
  • Prone to overfitting with many input variables
  • Numerical accuracy depends on meeting linearity assumptions
  • Doesn’t work for categorical outputs

Logistic Regression Pros

  • Can handle nonlinear relationships
  • Well-suited for binary classification tasks
  • Outputs probability of outcomes occurring
  • No assumptions about distribution of input variables

Logistic Regression Cons

  • More complex implementation than linear regression
  • Coefficients are harder to interpret
  • Cannot extrapolate beyond range of training data
  • Prone to overfitting with many input variables

How to Choose Which Model to Use

When selecting between linear and logistic regression, here are some tips:

  • Clearly define your predictive modeling goal – is it forecasting values or classifying outcomes? This often makes the choice obvious.

  • Check whether your output variable is numerical or categorical. Logistic regression requires a binary categorical output.

  • Visualize relationships between variables. Linear assumptions may be violated if very nonlinear.

  • Evaluate pros and cons – which model aligns better with your use case?

  • Try both models – you can empirically test performance to pick a winner.

  • Ensemble models – you can combine both approaches into one model in some cases.

The most important factor is properly matching the model type to your desired output. Logistic transforms linear regression to handle binary classification. Make sure you select the underlying methodology suited to your predictive goal.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Linear regression and logistic regression represent two fundamental approaches to predictive modeling and data analysis. Their core difference lies in the type of output variable they are designed to predict – continuous numerical values versus binary categorical classes.

However, they share many similarities under the hood. Logistic regression is essentially applying a nonlinear transform to linear regression to squeeze outputs into probability values.

The choice between these two models ultimately depends on your specific analytical needs. Assess whether your use case calls for numerical forecasting or categorical classification.

To take your skills to the next level, some suggested next steps are:

  • Practice implementing linear and logistic regression models in Python or R
  • Study more advanced regression techniques like polynomial regression
  • Learn how to properly evaluate model performance
  • Explore ensemble modeling approaches combining both types of regression
  • Apply these fundamental regression approaches to real-world datasets

With a solid grasp of the contrast between these two widely used models, you’ll be equipped to carry out more effective predictive analysis and modeling.

logistic regression vs linear regression

What Is Logistic Regression?

Logistic regression is a statistical method for binary classification. It extends the idea of linear regression to scenarios where the dependent variable is categorical, not continuous. Typically, logistic regression is used when the outcome to be predicted belongs to one of two possible categories, such as “yes” or “no”, “success” or “failure”, “win” or “lose”, etc.

How Linear Regression Works?

  • Model Fitting: Linear regression establishes the optimal linear connection between the dependent and independent variables. This is achieved through a technique known as “least squares,” wherein the aim is to minimize the sum of the squares of the residuals, which represent the disparities between observed and predicted values.
  • Assumption Checking: Certain assumptions must be met to ensure the models reliability, including linearity, independence, homoscedasticity (constant variance of error terms), and a normal distribution of errors.
  • Prediction: Once the model is fitted and validated, it can be used to make predictions. For a given set of input values for the IVs, the model will predict the corresponding value of the DV.

Linear Regression vs Logistic Regression – What’s The Difference?

What is the difference between linear regression and logistic regression?

Linear regression uses a method known as ordinary least squares to find the best fitting regression equation. Conversely, logistic regression uses a method known as maximum likelihood estimation to find the best fitting regression equation. Difference #4: Output to Predict Linear regression predicts a continuous value as the output. For example:

What is a logistic regression model?

Logistic regression is a model that shows the probability of an event occurring from the input of one or more independent variables. In most cases, logistic regression produces only two outputs, resulting in a binary outcome.

What are the different types of variables in logistic regression?

When computing a logistic regression model, the independent variables can have several distinctions: Continuous variables represent infinite values. Discrete ordinal variables have a ranking order and end at some point. Discrete nominal variables also end at some point but have no ranking order. What is linear regression?

What are linear and logistic regression methods in medical research?

Linear and logistic regressions are widely used statistical methods to assess the association between variables in medical research. These methods estimate if there is an association between the independent variable (also called predictor, exposure, or risk factor) and the dependent variable (outcome). 2

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