Regularization in Machine Learning: A Complete Guide

Regularization in Machine Learning: A Complete Guide

If you are new to regularization or want to deepen your understanding of this important concept, then you have come to the right place. In this blog, we will provide a complete guide to regularization techniques in machine learning, including the concepts and benefits of regularization in machine learning.


Regularization is a technique that helps to improve the model’s ability to generalize to new data. It does this by adding a penalty term to the model’s objective function that penalizes features that do not contribute to the prediction. This can help to prevent overfitting and improve the model’s ability to predict unseen data.

Why Regularization? 

In machine learning, we often aim to build models that can accurately predict outcomes on unseen data. However, if we have a large amount of data and a complex model. Then, the model can learn patterns in the data that are not representative of the underlying relationships between the input features and the target variables. This causes overfitting and will show poor performance on unseen data.

Regularization helps to prevent overfitting by adding a penalty term to the model’s objective function. This encourages the model to find a balance between accurately fitting the training data and having a simple, generalizable structure. This can help to avoid the model learning patterns in the training data that do not generalize to new data.

The regularization techniques in machine learning improve an algorithm’s performance. By reducing its complexity and improving the accuracy of machine learning models. The idea behind it is simple. if you have a model with high variance and low bias. then you can use regularization to reduce the magnitude of these two effects.

Such as: if your model was trained on data with high variance (i.e., many different samples). then using more complex models will make it harder for your algorithm to learn useful information from them. because any given sample might not appear in all training points. On the other hand, if your model has a low bias but high variance. then adding extra features may cause overfitting because there won’t be enough data available for learning anything useful from those features alone. when too much feature engineering goes into building overly-complex models that don’t perform well on unseen problems

What is Regularization?

Regularization is a technique used in machine learning to prevent overfitting and improve a model’s ability to generalize to new data. It does this by adding a penalty term, called a regularization term, to the model’s objective function. This term is typically based on the model’s parameters.

Different ways can be used to implement regularization. such as Ridge regression, Lasso regression and Elastic Net. These techniques differ in the form of the regularization term and how it is applied to the objective function.

Regularization involves adding additional features to your model, but penalizing them if they do not improve its performance on new data. This helps prevent overfitting, since it forces you to include fewer variables with high coefficients and still achieve good performance overall (and not just for specific classes).

How does it work?

To understand regularization, consider a linear regression model that predicts a target variable based on a single input.

An example of linear regression to explain regularization.

As mentioned in the image, find the new value of y for each x point using linear equation, slope and intercept.

table for linear regression

Now, if you plot the actual data and new predicted data points. You can easily compare them.

line graph for regularization

The green line is for the new predicted value. Now, To fit the model or improve its performance we have to find a line from which the squared sum of the distance between the actual points and the predicted one must be minimum. Hence, the objective of this model is to find the best-fit line that minimizes the sum of the squared errors between the predicted values and the true values. This task is done by regularization.

Regularization is the process of adding a penalty term to the cost function. The penalty term is added to prevent overfitting, which can happen when you have too many variables in your model and are trying to fit all those variables together. This causes your graph to look like there’s no relationship between any of them and makes it hard for you to predict anything accurately.

Regularization usually happens at every step when training: first, we read data from our dataset into memory (training), then use some pre-trained weights that were created during an earlier training run. then apply regularization using these pre-trained weights and applying an additional regularization parameter (usually set very low).

The way we do this is by adding a penalty term to the cost function. This penalty term is usually called regularization or L2 weight decay because it’s a way of constraining the weights in our model so that they don’t get too big.

Techniques of Regularization

Regularization is a technique that can be used to regularize the loss function.

Different methods to implement regularization techniques in machine learning include:

  1. Lasso: This method regularizes the model by adding the absolute value of the parameters to the objective function.
  2. Ridge: This technique regularizes the model by adding the squared values of the parameters to the objective function.
  3. Elastic Net: This technique combines Lasso and Ridge regression by adding both the sum of the absolute values and the sum of the squared values of the model parameters to the objective function as the regularization term.

Each of these techniques has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and the choice of which technique to use will depend on the specific problem at hand.

Differences and similarities between Ridge Regression vs Lasso Regression

It’s important to know regularization and its working methodology. So that you can use it wisely in your models. It’s a very powerful tool for improving your model performance.

Ridge regression and lasso both use the same optimization algorithm. However, there are some differences between them:

Ridge RegressionLasso Regression
It adds a penalty to overly complex or under-complex models by considering the sum of the squared coefficients.But, this one modifies the complexity of models by adding a penalty equivalent to the absolute sum of the magnitude of coefficients.
L1 norm is used in ridge regression to penalize coefficients.the l2 norm is used in lasso to penalize coefficients (and also for regularization).
Ridge Regression uses a more complicated equation than Lasso Regression doesLasso uses a simpler equation as compared to Ridge.
however, it’s also much less sensitive to outliers and makes better predictions overall because it has much more flexibility when dealing with problems with high dimensionality or noise in data setsLasso Regression is much more sensitive to outliers and noise in data sets than Ridge Regression. but it can also make better predictions when dealing with problems that have high dimensionality.
Ridge regression does not drive any of the model parameters to zero. but, it is likely to make parameters closer to zero and prevent overfitting.Lasso regression tends to drive some of the model parameters to zero. This quality makes it useful for feature selection also.
This is useful if your dataset contains more variables with relatively smaller data samples.This is useful if you are working with only fewer parameters. such as a linear model.

Regularization Techniques Formulated Mathematically

Regularization is also known as penalization or shrinkage, and it is used to prevent overfitting. Regularization can be applied to both linear and nonlinear models. It is also used to control the complexity of the model.

loss function

Where loss is the squared sum of the difference in the actual ground truth and predicted value. Yp is the predicted value and Yi is the actual ground truth value.

Lasso(L1) Regularization. you penalize the model for improving its complexity or performance by adding a term to the loss function. That adds to the error whenever the model parameters (weights) are large. This can be expressed as:

cost function for l1 regularization

where lambda is the regularization parameter and W is the sum of all the weights in your model.

Ridge(L2) regularization.

cost function for l2 regularization

What does regularization accomplish? 

Regularization can help to prevent overfitting, which occurs when your model has an excess of unnecessary features that negatively impact its accuracy. This technique allows you to minimize the complexity of your model by reducing the number of features and improving its ability to generalize to new data. It also helps improve generalization performance. Which means it helps you generalize from samples with varying amounts of data to new instances. where there may be less information available.


In conclusion, powerful techniques in machine learning include regularization that can help to improve the generalization of a model and prevent overfitting. In this blog, we have provided a complete guide to regularization, including the concepts, methods, and benefits of regularization. We’ve also discussed ways to regularize your models so that you can use them for your data analysis. We hope that this guide has helped to clarify the role of regularization techniques in machine learning. Further, provided you with the tools to apply regularization to your own models.


What is regularization and what problem does it try to solve? Feedback

It’s simple. Regularization prevents your learning algorithm from overfitting. This means that the model you have learns from training data and only generalizes to training data. It does so by adding a penalty term.

How does regularization solve a problem?

Regularization helps to solve the problem by adding a penalty term to the objective function that the model is trying to optimize. This penalty term encourages the model to have smaller weights, which can reduce the complexity of the model and improve its generalization.

How should regularization be done?

There are several ways to apply regularization, including L1 regularization, L2 regularization, and elastic net regularization. The appropriate method to use will depend on the specific problem and the characteristics of the data.

In what ways does regularization help?

Regularization helps to improve the stability and robustness of a model.

Are there any benefits to regularization?

Regularization can be beneficial in several ways. It can improve the performance of a model on unseen data, reduce overfitting, and make the model more interpretable by reducing the number of features with large weights.

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