For an indepdent numerical variable X the B1 coefficient is COV(X,Y)/Var(X).

Since Categorical Variables don't have things like Means(from which things like COV and VAR are derived) how would it work to derive a simple linear regression for an independent binary categorical variable? What does its formula look like? How would it look like going to multiple linear regression? Thank you.


1 Answer 1


Since Categorical Variables don't have things like Means

This is solved if you dummy code the categories. Consider a binary variable, for clarity A or B. If I recode this variable so that 0 is A and 1 is B then I get something I can easily compute the mean, variance, and covariance for.

Simple example using the mtcars data in R. This data has transformed the column vs to be 0 when the engine is not v shaped and 1 when the engine is v shaped. Let's compute the regression coefficient of vs on mpg using the formula you provided and the lm function

vs <- mtcars$vs
mpg <- mtcars$mpg

fit <- lm(mpg ~ vs)
#>       vs 
#> 7.940476

cov(mpg, vs) / var(vs)
#> [1] 7.940476

Created on 2024-04-02 with reprex v2.0.2

Unsurprisingly, they are the same.

  • $\begingroup$ So when we dummy codify the binary categorical variable and calculate through those where the mean basically is a proportion, we can use that in a regression model as if it would interpret it as a numerical value? $\endgroup$
    – Mandem
    Apr 3 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the Variance, from my understanding for proportions the Variance is p(1-p)/n. In this regression case would we calculate the Variance as we normally do with a numerical variable? (X-Xbar)^2 / n-1 ?? Thank you $\endgroup$
    – Mandem
    Apr 3 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Mandem Yes, when you dummy code you map the category to a numerical value. The variance calculations should use the sample variance (i.e. n-1 in denominator) since you don't know the true population variance. $\endgroup$ Apr 3 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ I meant as in does the simple linear regression model use p(1-p)/n-1 or (X-Xbar)^2 / n-1 . Sorry if my previous question wasn't clear. $\endgroup$
    – Mandem
    Apr 3 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ (X-XBAR) since you don't know the value of p. It needs to be estimated $\endgroup$ Apr 3 at 14:56

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