# Does the number of degrees of freedom of a regression refer to the number of variables?

Mar 17, 2016

No. Statisticians use the terms "degrees of freedom" to describe the number of values in the final calculation of a statistic that are free to vary.

#### Explanation:

This is at least one less than the number of variables, and may be more.

A data set contains a number of observations, say, n. They constitute n individual pieces of information. These pieces of information can be used to estimate either parameters or variability. In general, each item being estimated costs one degree of freedom. The remaining degrees of freedom are used to estimate variability. All we have to do is count properly.

A single sample: There are n observations. There's one parameter (the mean) that needs to be estimated. That leaves n-1 degrees of freedom for estimating variability.

Two samples: There are n1+n2 observations. There are two means to be estimated. That leaves n1+n2-2 degrees of freedom for estimating variability.

One-way ANOVA with g groups: There are n1+..+ng observations. There are g means to be estimated. That leaves n1+..+ng-g degrees of freedom for estimating variability. This accounts for the denominator degrees of freedom for the F statistic.

http://www.jerrydallal.com/lhsp/dof.htm