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The linear regression model discussed in Chapter 3 assumes that the response variable Y is quantitative. But in many situations, the response variable is instead qualitative. For example, eye color is qualitative, taking on values blue, brown, or green. Often qualitative variables are referred to as categorical; we will use these terms interchangeably. In this chapter, we study approaches for predicting qualitative responses, a process that is known as classification. Predicting a qualitative response for an observation can be referred to as classifying that observation, since it involves assigning the observation to a category, or class. On the other hand, often the methods used for classification first predict the probability of each of the categories of a qualitative variable, as the basis for making the classification. In this sense they also behave like regression methods.
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