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Logistic Regression: Top Interview Questions



Welcome to the second blog in our Data Science and Machine Learning Interview Series! (check first blog on linear regression here) In this blog, we will be exploring logistic regression, which is a statistical technique used to model the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables.


Logistic regression is a type of binary classification algorithm, meaning it is used to predict a binary outcome, such as 0 or 1, true or false, etc. It is frequently utilized in a variety of applications, including predicting the likelihood of a customer making a purchase, diagnosing a medical condition, and determining the probability of default on a loan.


In this blog, we will be discussing the top logistic regression interview questions you may encounter in a data science or machine learning interview, providing detailed answers to each question. By preparing for these questions, you will be well-equipped to tackle any logistic regression-related questions that may arise in an interview. So, without further ado, let's delve into the top logistic regression interview questions!



Q1: How is logistic regression different from linear regression?

Logistic regression is different from linear regression in a number of ways:

  • Linear regression is used to model continuous variables, while logistic regression is used to model binary variables.

  • Linear regression models the relationship between the independent and dependent variables using a linear equation, while logistic regression models the probability of the dependent variable taking on a certain value using a logistic function.

  • Linear regression models the mean of the dependent variable, while logistic regression models the probability of the dependent variable.


Q2: Which one is more sensitive towards outliers - Linear or Logistic regression?

Linear regression and logistic regression are both sensitive to outliers, but linear regression is generally more sensitive to outliers than logistic regression. This is because linear regression models the relationship between the independent and dependent variables using a linear equation, and the model estimates the coefficients by minimizing the sum of the squared errors between the predicted values and the true values. Outliers can have a disproportionate influence on the model estimates because they contribute more to the sum of the squared errors due to their large distances from the predicted values.

In contrast, logistic regression models the probability of the dependent variable taking on a certain value using a logistic function, and the model estimates the coefficients by maximizing the likelihood of the observed data. The logistic function is less sensitive to outliers because it is a more robust function and has a lower sensitivity to the tails of the distribution.

In conclusion, both linear and logistic regression can be affected by outliers, and it is important to identify and address outliers in the data before fitting a model. Techniques such as outlier detection and outlier treatment can be used to identify and handle outliers in the data.

Q3. How do you interpret the coefficients of a logistic regression model?

The coefficients of a logistic regression model can be interpreted as the change in the log odds of the dependent variable for a one unit change in the independent variable, holding all other variables constant. The log odds are the logarithm of the odds of the dependent variable, which is the ratio of the probability of the dependent variable taking on a certain value to the probability of it not taking on that value.



Q4: Why isn't Logistic Regression called Logistic Classification?

Logistic regression is a classification algorithm that is used to predict the probability of a binary outcome (such as "yes" or "no") given a set of independent variables. It is called "logistic regression" because it uses a logistic function to model the probability of the outcome.

The logistic function is defined as:

p = 1 / (1 + exp(-z))

where p is the predicted probability, z is the linear combination of the independent variables:

z = b_0 + b_1 * x_1 + ... + b_n * x_n

where b_0 is the intercept term, b_1, ..., b_n are the coefficients for the independent variables x_1, ..., x_n, respectively.

The logistic function is a sigmoid function that maps the linear combination of the independent variables to the range [0, 1], which corresponds to the probability of the outcome. The predicted probability can then be transformed into a binary prediction using a classification threshold.

Logistic regression is not called "logistic classification" because the term "classification" refers to the task of assigning observations to predefined classes, whereas logistic regression is a method for predicting the probability of an outcome given a set of independent variables. The term "regression" is used because logistic regression models the relationship between the dependent variable (the probability of the outcome) and the independent variables.



Q5: How do you measure the performance of a logistic regression model?

There are several measures that can be used to evaluate the performance of a logistic regression model:

  • Classification accuracy: Classification accuracy is the percentage of correct predictions made by the model. It is a simple and intuitive measure, but it can be misleading if the classes are imbalanced.

  • Confusion matrix: A confusion matrix is a table that shows the number of true positive, true negative, false positive, and false negative predictions made by the model. It provides a more detailed picture of the model's performance and is useful for identifying issues such as class imbalance and imbalanced precision and recall.

  • Precision and recall: Precision is the proportion of true positive predictions made by the model to the total number of positive predictions made. Recall is the proportion of true positive predictions made by the model to the total number of actual positive cases. Precision and recall are useful for evaluating the performance of a model on imbalanced classes.

  • F1 score: The F1 score is the harmonic mean of precision and recall and is a balance between the two. It is a useful metric for evaluating the overall performance of a model.

  • AUC-ROC curve: The AUC-ROC curve is a plot of the true positive rate against the false positive rate at different classification thresholds. The area under the curve (AUC) is a measure of the model's ability to distinguish between positive and negative cases.


Q6: What is the difference between AUC-ROC and AUC-PR and when one is preferred over the other?

The AUC-ROC (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve) and the AUC-PR (area under the precision-recall curve) are two common measures of the performance of a binary classification model.

The AUC-ROC curve is a plot of the true positive rate (sensitivity) against the false positive rate (1 - specificity) at different classification thresholds. The true positive rate is the proportion of positive cases that are correctly classified as positive, and the false positive rate is the proportion of negative cases that are incorrectly classified as positive. The AUC-ROC is a measure of the model's ability to distinguish between positive and negative cases, and it ranges from 0 to 1, with higher values indicating better performance.

The AUC-PR curve is a plot of the precision (proportion of true positive predictions to total positive predictions) against the recall (proportion of true positive predictions to total actual positive cases) at different classification thresholds. The AUC-PR is a measure of the model's precision and recall, and it also ranges from 0 to 1, with higher values indicating better performance.

The AUC-ROC is generally preferred when the positive and negative classes are balanced, while the AUC-PR is preferred when the classes are imbalanced or when the focus is on the positive class. This is because the AUC-PR takes into account the relative frequency of the positive and negative classes and is less sensitive to class imbalance than the AUC-ROC. However, both measures can be useful for evaluating the performance of a model, and which one to use depends on the specific context and goals of the analysis.



Q7: Why do we need F1-score?

The F1 score, also known as the F-score or F-measure, is a metric that combines precision and recall to provide a single score that reflects the overall performance of a binary classification model. It is defined as the harmonic mean of precision and recall, and it is calculated as:

F1 = 2 * (precision * recall) / (precision + recall)

Precision is the proportion of true positive predictions made by the model to the total number of positive predictions made, and recall is the proportion of true positive predictions made by the model to the total number of actual positive cases.

The F1 score is useful because it provides a balance between precision and recall, and it is sensitive to changes in both measures. It is a more comprehensive measure of a model's performance than either precision or recall alone, and it is often used to compare the performance of different models.

The F1 score is commonly used in situations where the positive class is rare or the cost of false negatives is high. For example, in medical diagnosis, it may be more important to avoid missing a positive case (false negative) than to minimize false positives, in which case the F1 score would be a more appropriate metric than precision or recall alone.



Q8: Apart from the F1-score, what are the other metrics which combines precision and recall?

In addition to the F1 score, there are several other metrics that combine precision and recall to provide a single score that reflects the overall performance of a binary classification model:


1. Fbeta score: The Fbeta score is similar to the F1 score, but it puts more emphasis on either precision or recall by setting a different beta value. The Fbeta score is defined as:

Fbeta = (1 + beta^2) * (precision * recall) / (beta^2 * precision + recall)

A beta value of 1 corresponds to the F1 score, which balances precision and recall equally. A beta value less than 1 gives more weight to precision, while a beta value greater than 1 gives more weight to recall.


2. Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC): The Matthews correlation coefficient is a measure of the quality of a binary classification model that takes into account the true and false positive and negative rates. It is defined as:

MCC = (TP * TN - FP * FN) / sqrt((TP + FP) * (TP + FN) * (TN + FP) * (TN + FN))

where TP is the number of true positives, TN is the number of true negatives, FP is the number of false positives, and FN is the number of false negatives. The MCC ranges from -1 to 1, with higher values indicating better performance.


3. Informedness: Informedness, also known as the Youden index, is a measure of the improvement in classification provided by a model compared to random guessing. It is defined as:

Informedness = sensitivity + specificity - 1

where sensitivity is the true positive rate and specificity is the true negative rate. Informedness ranges from -1 to 1, with higher values indicating better performance.



Q9: What if we use MSE loss for logistic regression?


It is generally not recommended to use the mean squared error (MSE) loss function for logistic regression because it is a regression loss function and logistic regression is a classification algorithm. The MSE loss function is used to measure the difference between the predicted values and the true values in a continuous target variable. It is typically used in linear regression, where the target variable is continuous.

In contrast, logistic regression is used to predict a binary outcome, such as 0 or 1, true or false, etc. A common loss function for logistic regression is the binary cross-entropy loss function, which measures the distance between the predicted probability of the positive class and the true label. The binary cross-entropy loss function is defined as:

Loss = -(y * log(p) + (1 - y) * log(1 - p))

where y is the true label (0 or 1), p is the predicted probability of the positive class, and log is the natural logarithm.

Using the MSE loss function for logistic regression would not make sense because the target variable is binary and the MSE loss function is designed for continuous variables. It would also not be meaningful to compare the predicted probabilities with the true labels using the MSE loss because the MSE loss is based on squared differences, which do not have a direct interpretation in the context of binary classification.


Q10: Please explain Multinomial logistic regression in detail.

Multinomial logistic regression is a type of logistic regression that is used for multi-class classification problems, where the target variable has more than two classes. It is similar to binary logistic regression, which is used for binary classification problems, but it uses a multinomial loss function that is more suited to multi-class classification.

In multinomial logistic regression, the model estimates the probability of each class given the independent variables. The model is trained to predict the class with the highest probability. The predicted probability of each class is calculated using the softmax function, which is defined as:

p_i = exp(z_i) / sum(exp(z_j))

where p_i is the predicted probability of class i, z_i is the linear combination of the independent variables for class i, and z_j is the linear combination of the independent variables for each class j. The softmax function normalizes the predicted probabilities so that they sum to 1.

The multinomial logistic regression model is trained to minimize the cross-entropy loss function, which measures the distance between the predicted probabilities and the true labels. The cross-entropy loss function is defined as:

Loss = -sum(y_i * log(p_i))

where y_i is the true label for class i and p_i is the predicted probability of class i.

Overall, multinomial logistic regression is a powerful and widely used method for multi-class classification problems. It is simple to implement and can be trained efficiently using gradient descent or other optimization algorithms.



Q11: Is logistic regression a generative model or a discriminative model?

Logistic regression is a discriminative model, which means that it is used to predict the probability of the dependent variable taking on a certain value given the independent variables. It does not model the joint distribution of the independent and dependent variables, but rather the conditional distribution of the dependent variable given the independent variables.

In contrast, a generative model is a model that is used to model the joint distribution of the independent and dependent variables and can generate new samples from the distribution. Generative models are used to learn the underlying structure of the data and can be used for tasks such as density estimation and classification.



Q12: How can we do multi-class classification using logistic regression?

There are several ways to perform multi-class classification using logistic regression:

  1. One-vs-all (OvA) or one-vs-rest: This approach involves training a separate logistic regression model for each class, and the class with the highest predicted probability is chosen as the final prediction. This approach is simple and efficient, but it can be sensitive to imbalanced classes.

  2. One-vs-one (OvO): This approach involves training a logistic regression model for each pair of classes, and the class with the most wins is chosen as the final prediction. This approach is more computationally intensive but can be more accurate for some datasets.

  3. Multinomial logistic regression: This approach involves training a single logistic regression model with multiple classes. It is similar to OvA, but it uses a multinomial loss function that is more suited to multi-class classification.


Q13: Which loss function is used in logistic regression?

The most common loss function used in logistic regression is the binary cross-entropy loss function, also known as the log loss function. The binary cross-entropy loss function measures the distance between the predicted probability of the positive class and the true label. It is defined as:

Loss = -(y * log(p) + (1 - y) * log(1 - p))

where y is the true label (0 or 1), p is the predicted probability of the positive class, and log is the natural logarithm.

The binary cross-entropy loss function is used in logistic regression because it is a suitable loss function for binary classification problems. It is a continuous, positive, and singular valued function that is smooth and easy to optimize. It also has the property of being convex, which means that it has only one global minimum and can be efficiently optimized using gradient descent or other optimization algorithms.



Q14: How do we optimize the loss function of logistic regression? Please mention all possible methods.

There are several methods that can be used to optimize the loss function of logistic regression:

  1. Gradient descent: This is a first-order optimization algorithm that iteratively updates the model parameters by taking the gradient of the loss function with respect to the parameters. It is a popular method for optimizing the loss function of logistic regression because it is simple to implement and can be efficient for large datasets.

  2. Stochastic gradient descent: This is a variant of gradient descent that updates the model parameters using a small random sample of the data instead of the entire dataset. It is more efficient than batch gradient descent but can be less stable.

  3. Conjugate gradient: This is a second-order optimization algorithm that uses the curvature of the loss function to accelerate the optimization process. It is more efficient than gradient descent but can be more difficult to implement.

  4. BFGS: This is a quasi-Newton optimization algorithm that uses an approximation of the Hessian matrix to update the model parameters. It is more efficient than gradient descent but can be more computationally intensive.

  5. L-BFGS: This is a limited-memory variant of BFGS that is more efficient for large datasets.


Q15: What is the loss function in the case of lasso and ridge logistic regression?

The loss function in lasso logistic regression is the negative log-likelihood of the model with a L1 penalty term added to the objective function. The objective function is defined as:

L = -log-likelihood + alpha * sum(abs(b_i))

where L is the objective function, -log-likelihood is the negative log-likelihood of the model, alpha is the regularization strength, and b_i are the model parameters. The L1 penalty term encourages the model parameters to be sparse, which means that many of the coefficients are set to zero.

The loss function in ridge logistic regression is the negative log-likelihood of the model with a L2 penalty term added to the objective function. The objective function is defined as:

L = -log-likelihood + alpha * sum(b_i^2)

where L is the objective function, log-likelihood is the negative log-likelihood of the model, alpha is the regularization strength, and b_i are the model parameters. The L2 penalty term encourages the model parameters to be small and close to zero, which can help to prevent overfitting.

In summary, the loss function in lasso and ridge logistic regression is the negative log-likelihood of the model with a regularization term added to the objective function. The regularization term encourages the model parameters to be sparse (in the case of lasso) or small and close to zero (in the case of ridge). This can help to improve the generalization performance of the model and prevent overfitting.



Q16: What is the probability calibration in the context of logistic regression? How do we do this?

Probability calibration is the process of adjusting the predicted probabilities of a classification model so that they better match the true probabilities. This is important because many classification models, including logistic regression, tend to produce overconfident predictions, meaning that the predicted probabilities are often higher or lower than the true probabilities.

There are several ways to calibrate the predicted probabilities of a logistic regression model:

  1. Platt scaling: This method fits a sigmoid function to the predicted probabilities and uses it to transform the probabilities into a more calibrated scale. The sigmoid function is defined as:

p = 1 / (1 + exp(-z))

where p is the calibrated probability and z is the linear combination of the independent variables:

z = b_0 + b_1 * x_1 + ... + b_n * x_n

where b_0 is the intercept term, b_1, ..., b_n are the coefficients for the independent variables x_1, ..., x_n, respectively.


2. Isotonic regression: This method fits a monotonically increasing function to the predicted probabilities and uses it to transform the probabilities into a more calibrated scale. The function is fitted using the pool adjacent violators algorithm, which iteratively updates the function to minimize the mean squared error between the predicted and true probabilities.


3. Temperature scaling: This method applies a temperature scaling factor to the predicted probabilities to adjust their calibration. The temperature scaling factor is defined as:

p = softmax(z / T)

where p is the calibrated probability, z is the linear combination of the independent variables, and T is the temperature scaling factor. A higher value of T results in softer probabilities, meaning that the predicted probabilities are closer to the uniform distribution.



Q17: What is Isotonic regression? Please explain in detail.

Isotonic regression is a method for calibrating the predicted probabilities of a classification model. It is based on the idea of fitting a monotonically increasing function to the predicted probabilities and using it to transform the probabilities into a more calibrated scale.

The function is fitted using the pool adjacent violators algorithm, which iteratively updates the function to minimize the mean squared error between the predicted and true probabilities. The algorithm starts with a uniform function and then iteratively updates the function by swapping adjacent pairs of points that violate the monotonicity constraint.

Isotonic regression is useful because it can improve the calibration of the predicted probabilities and make them more reliable. It is often used in conjunction with other evaluation metrics, such as the AUC-ROC (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve) or the F1 score, to provide a more comprehensive assessment of the model's performance.

Overall, isotonic regression is a method for calibrating the predicted probabilities of a classification model by fitting a monotonically increasing function to the predicted probabilities. It can be used to improve the calibration of the predicted probabilities and make them more reliable.



Q18: What is AIC and BIC?

AIC (Akaike's Information Criterion) and BIC (Bayesian Information Criterion) are model selection criteria that are used to compare the fit of different models. They are based on the log-likelihood of the model and the number of model parameters and are used to trade off model fit against model complexity.

AIC is defined as:

AIC = -2 * log-likelihood + 2 * number of parameters

BIC is defined as:

BIC = -2 * log-likelihood + log(number of observations) * number of parameters

Both AIC and BIC are used to select the best-fitting model from a set of competing models by choosing the model with the lowest AIC or BIC value. AIC and BIC can be used for both linear and logistic regression models.

AIC and BIC are both measures of the goodness of fit of a model, but they differ in how they penalize the number of model parameters. AIC penalizes the number of model parameters less severely than BIC, which means that AIC is more likely to choose a model with more parameters if it leads to a better fit. BIC, on the other hand, penalizes the number of model parameters more severely, which means that it is more conservative in choosing a model with more parameters.


Q19: What is MDL?

MDL (Minimum Description Length) is a principle of data compression that is used to choose the simplest model that best explains the data. The idea behind MDL is that the model that best explains the data should also be the simplest model that can represent the data accurately. This is because a simpler model is more likely to generalize to new data and is less prone to overfitting.

The MDL principle can be used to compare the fit of different models and to select the best-fitting model. It is based on the concept of the description length, which is the length of the code needed to describe the data and the model. The model with the shortest description length is chosen as the best-fitting model.

MDL can be used for both linear and logistic regression models. It is often used in conjunction with other model selection criteria, such as AIC (Akaike's Information Criterion) or BIC (Bayesian Information Criterion).



Q20: Please explain why is the decision boundary linear in case of logistic regression.

The decision boundary in logistic regression is linear because the model uses a linear combination of the independent variables to predict the probability of the dependent variable taking on a certain value. Specifically, the logistic regression model estimates the probability of the dependent variable taking on the positive class (usually denoted as 1) using the logistic function:

p = 1 / (1 + exp(-z))

where p is the predicted probability of the positive class, and z is the linear combination of the independent variables:

z = b_0 + b_1 * x_1 + ... + b_n * x_n

where b_0 is the intercept term, b_1, ..., b_n are the coefficients for the independent variables x_1, ..., x_n, respectively.

The decision boundary is the boundary between the regions where the predicted probability of the positive class is greater than or equal to 0.5 and the regions where it is less than 0.5. Because the decision boundary is defined by the linear combination of the independent variables, it is a linear boundary.



Q21: Can we use R-square to measure the performance of logistic regression?

The coefficient of determination, also known as R-squared, is a measure of the goodness of fit of a linear regression model. It is defined as the proportion of the variance in the dependent variable that is explained by the independent variables. R-squared ranges from 0 to 1, with higher values indicating a better fit.

R-squared is not suitable for measuring the performance of logistic regression because logistic regression is a classification algorithm, not a regression algorithm. Logistic regression models the probability of the dependent variable taking on a certain value (usually denoted as 1) given the independent variables, and the predicted probabilities are transformed into binary predictions using a classification threshold. R-squared is not defined for classification problems because it is based on the variance of the dependent variable, which is not meaningful in the context of classification.

Instead, there are several metrics that are commonly used to evaluate the performance of a logistic regression model, such as accuracy, precision, recall, and the F1 score. These metrics are calculated based on the true and false positive and negative rates, and they provide a measure of the model's ability to correctly classify the data.



Q22: What is MacFadden's R-square?

MacFadden's R-squared is a measure of the goodness of fit of a logistic regression model. It is defined as the ratio of the log-likelihood of the null model (a model with only an intercept term) to the log-likelihood of the full model (a model with all the independent variables). MacFadden's R-squared ranges from 0 to 1, with higher values indicating a better fit.

MacFadden's R-squared is an alternative to the traditional R-squared measure, which is used in linear regression and is not suitable for logistic regression because it is based on the variance of the dependent variable, which is not meaningful in the context of classification. MacFadden's R-squared is calculated based on the log-likelihood of the model, which is a measure of the probability of the observed data given the model.

MacFadden's R-squared can be used to compare the fit of different logistic regression models and to select the best-fitting model. It is commonly used in conjunction with other measures of model performance, such as the AUC-ROC (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve) or the F1 score.



Q23: What is bayesian logistic regression? Please explain in detail.

Bayesian logistic regression is a variant of logistic regression that uses Bayesian inference to estimate the model parameters. Bayesian inference is a statistical approach that involves using prior knowledge about the model parameters to make inferences about the posterior distribution of the parameters given the data.

In Bayesian logistic regression, the model parameters are considered random variables with a prior distribution. The prior distribution reflects the belief about the values of the parameters before the data are observed. The posterior distribution is calculated using Bayes' theorem, which states that the posterior distribution is proportional to the prior distribution multiplied by the likelihood of the data given the parameters.

The posterior distribution can be used to make predictions about the probability of the dependent variable taking on certain values given the independent variables. It can also be used to quantify the uncertainty of the model estimates and to perform model comparison and selection.

Bayesian logistic regression has several advantages over classical logistic regression, including the ability to incorporate prior knowledge about the model parameters, the ability to quantify the uncertainty of the model estimates, and the ability to perform model comparison and selection. However, it can be more computationally intensive to implement and requires more data to produce stable estimates.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the above questions represent some of the most common and challenging questions that you may encounter in an interview involving logistic regression. By reviewing and practicing these questions, you can improve your understanding of logistic regression and increase your chances of success in the interview.

It is important to not only be familiar with the technical aspects of logistic regression but also to have a good understanding of its applications and limitations, as well as the different evaluation metrics and methods used to assess the performance of a logistic regression model. By demonstrating your knowledge and skills in these areas, you can show that you are a strong candidate for the role and are well-prepared to tackle real-world data science problems.

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