Reading from Logistic Regression slides by Erdem, before deriving the linear boundary equation from the GNB equation it says "What if we assume variance is independent of class i.e. $\sigma^2_{i,0}=\sigma^2_{i,1}$ and then put


what is that mean and what "variance is independent of class" assumption implies?

  • $\begingroup$ Suppose you had two points $A$ and $B$ on a plane and you wanted to divide the plane between closest to $A$ and those closest to $B$. There is a dividing line of the perpendicular bisector of $AB$ of points equally distant to them both. Suppose now you want to find points more than twice as far away from $B$ as they are from $A$; you would find the dividing line was a circle including (but not centred on) $A$. In a similar way, coming back to your question, assuming variance is independent of class leads to a linear decision boundary, which you may lose if you do not make that assumption $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Commented Feb 15, 2020 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


Let's say we have that variance is dependent of the class. We are talkin about the variance of the indipendent variable $X_i|Y=y_i$, which is a normal conditional PDF equal to enter image description here

You can clearly see that the variance of this variable depends on the class, infact we have the the $y$ index on the variance $\sigma_{i,y}$, meaning that variance could not be the same for all the classes (the classes anyway are two: $y = 0$, $y = 1$).

Practic example like the wikipedia one: We have a dependent variable which follows a Bernoulli rv where the students who pass the exam are the $1s$ the students who fail are the $0s$.

We have two normal random variables to explain the dependent variable: the $X_{1}|Y$ where the $x_{1,i}|y_{i}$ are the hours spent studying. The second random variable is $X_{2}|Y$ where the $x_{2,i}|y_{i}$ are the hours of sleeping. We run the model, we find the estimates and the decision boundary and:

  • we see that when a student fail the exam $y_i = 0$ there are no excuses: he failed because he studied very few hours, there's little randomness and we can assume that $\sigma^2_{i,y=0}=\epsilon$ where $\epsilon$ is a tiny variance.

  • we see that when a student pass the exam $y_i=1$ most of the cases he/she studied, but... there are many cases where he/she was lucky or has cheated, in fact many students who have low $x_{1,i}$ (they studied very few hours) have passed the exam. So in this case there is much randomness meaning that: $\sigma^2_{i,y=1}=\omega$, where $\omega > \epsilon$.

If we do not have the same variance the classification could not be perfect or efficient and we can't derive the linear boundary. If we assume that $\sigma^2_{i,y=0}=\sigma^2_{i,y=1}$ we can see that the conditional PDF loses the $y$ index, because in both cases of failing or passing the exam, we have the same variance.

enter image description here

So now with this assumption we can derive and obtain a decision boundary that is linear. If a distribution has a greater variance than the other one the classification could not be linear.

In your slides you see that you have a multivariate joint conditional PDF $X|Y=(X_{1},X_{2}|Y)$ with mean $M$ and variance $\Sigma$ that follows a normal distribution, where we have 2 information about the hours of study and the hours of sleeping. Like this one:enter image description here

What I do not like in the following picture of your slides is that if we have a different variance of the classes, let's say $\Sigma_{1} < \Sigma_{2} $, we should see a wider circles in the image below on the right, that would mean that the distribution is "wider" or with great variance than when we have an $y_i=0$.

enter image description here

$\Sigma_1$ would be the variance when there is an $y_i=0$ and $\Sigma_2$ would be the variance when there is a $y_i=1$. Hope this helps


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