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Non-linear regression. All regression analyses are for finding the relationship between a dependent variable (y) and one or more independent variables (x), by estimating the parameters that define the relationship.

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non linear regression
Non-linear regression
  • All regression analyses are for finding the relationship between a dependent variable (y) and one or more independent variables (x), by estimating the parameters that define the relationship.
  • Non-linear relationships whose parameters can be estimated by linear regression: e.g, y = axb, y = abx, y = aebx
  • Non-linear relationships whose parameters can be estimated by non-linear regression, e.g,
  • Non-linear relationships that cannot be represented by a function: loess
growth curve of e coli
Growth curve of E. coli
  • A researcher wishes to estimate the growth curve of E. coli. He put a very small number of E. coli cells into a large flask with rich growth medium, and take samples every half an hour to estimate the density (n/L).
  • 14 data points over 7 hours were obtained.
  • What is the instantaneous rate of growth (r). What is the initial density (N0)?
  • As the flask is very large, he assumed that the growth should be exponential, i.e., y = a·ebx (Which parameter correspond to r and which to N0?)
  • Three approaches
    • Log-Transform to linear relationship
    • Direct least-square solution (EXCEL solver)
    • Direct least-absolute-difference solution (EXCEL solver)
scatter plot
Scatter plot


Log-transform DRun linear regressionObtain D0 and r

excel solver
EXCEL solver

Get initial value for r:

Initial value for D0 is obtained with t = 0

body weight of wild elephant
Body weight of wild elephant
  • A researcher wishes to estimate the body weight of wild elephants.
  • He measured the body weight of 13 captured elephants of different sizes as well as a number of predictor variables, such as leg length, trunk length, etc. Through stepwise regression, he found that the inter-leg distance (shown in figiure) is the best predictor of body weight.
  • He learned from his former biology professor that the allometric law governing the body weight (W) and the length of a body part (L) states thatW = aLb
  • Use the three approaches to fit the equation
scatter plot1
Scatter plot

W = aLbIn EXCEL:

Log-transform W and LRun linear regressionObtain a and b

excel solver1
EXCEL solver


Initial values:

dna and protein gel electrophoresis
DNA and protein gel electrophoresis
  • How to estimate the molecular mass of a protein?
    • A ladder: proteins with known molecular mass
    • Deriving a calibration curve relating molecular mass (M) to migration distance (D): D = F(M)
    • Measure D and obtain M
  • The calibration curve is obtained by fitting a regression model
protein molecular mass
Protein molecular mass
  • The equation D=aebM appears to describe the relationship between D and M quite well. This relationship is better than some published relationships, e.g., D = a – b ln(M)
  • The data are my measurement of D and M for a subset of secreted proteins from the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori (Bumann et al., 2002).
  • Homework: use the data and the three approaches to estimate parameters a and b (You don’t need to submit)

Bumann, D., Aksu, S., Wendland, M., Janek, K., Zimny-Arndt, U., Sabarth, N., Meyer, T.F., and Jungblut, P.R., 2002, Proteome analysis of secreted proteins of the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. Infect. Immun. 70: 3396-3403.

area and radius
Area and Radius

What is the functional relationship between the area and the radius? Homework (you do not need to submit): Measure the area A (by counting the squares) and radius r for each circle and estimate the parameters c and d in the equation A = crd by using the three approaches.

toxicity study pesticide
Toxicity study: pesticide

What transformation to use?

probit and probit transformation
Probit and probit transformation
  • Probit has two names/definitions, both associated with standard normal distribution:
    • the inverse cumulative distribution function (CDF)
    • quantile function
  • CDF is denoted by (z), which is a continuous, monotone increasing sigmoid function in the range of (0,1), e.g.,(z) = p(-1.96) = 0.025 = 1 - (1.96)
  • The probit function gives the 'inverse' computation, formally denoted -1(p), i.e.,probit(p) = -1(p) probit(0.025) = -1.96 = -probit(0.975)
  • [probit(p)] = p, and probit[(z)] = z.
non linear regression1
Non-linear regression
  • In rapidly replicating unicellular eukaryotes such as the yeast, highly expressed intron-containing genes requires more efficient splicing sites than lowly expressed genes.
  • Natural selection will operate on the mutations at the slicing sites to optimize splicing efficiency.
  • Designate splicing efficiency as SE and gene expression as GE.
  • Certain biochemical reasoning suggests that SE and GE will follow the following relationships:
scatter plot2
Scatter plot

Initial values:

  0.4 (inferred when GE = 0)/  1 or    (inferred when GE is very large)When GE = 8, we have (0.4+8 )/(1+8 ) = 0.78