Statistics Definitions > Residual Sum of Squares, Total and Explained

The residual sum of squares is used to help you decide if a statistical model is a good fit for your data. It measures the overall difference between your data and the values predicted by your estimation model (a “residual” is a measure of the distance from a data point to a regression line). Total SS is related to the total sum and explained sum with the following formula:Total SS = Explained SS + Residual Sum of Squares.

**Contents**:

## What is the Total Sum of Squares?

The Total SS tells you how much variation there is in the dependent variable.

Total SS = Σ(Yi – mean of Y)^{2}.

**Note**: Sigma (Σ) is a mathematical term for summation or “adding up.” It’s telling you to add up all the possible results from the rest of the equation.

Sum of squares is a measure of how a data set varies around a central number (like the mean). You might realize by the phrase that you’re summing (*adding up*) squares — but squares of what? You’ll sometimes see this formula:

Other times you might see actual “squares”, like in this regression line:

Squares of numbers, as in 4^{2} and 10^{2} can be represented with actual geometric squares (image courtesy of UMBC.edu):

So the square shapes you see on regression lines are just representations of square numbers, like 5^{2} or 9^{2}. When you’re looking for a sum of squares, use the formula ; to find the actual number that represents a sum of squares. A diagram (like the regression line above) is optional, and can supply a visual representation of what you’re calculating.

## Sample Question

**Find the Sum of Sq. for the following numbers: 3,5,7.**

Step 1: Find the mean by adding the numbers together and dividing by the number of items in the set:

(3 + 5 + 7) / 3 = 15 / 3 = 5

Step 2: Subtract the mean from each of your data items:

3 – 5 = -2

5 – 5 = 0

7 – 5 = 2

Step 3: Square your results from Step 3:

-2 x -2 = 4

0 x 0 = 0

2 x 2 = 4

Step 4: Sum (add up) all of your numbers:

4 + 4 + 0 = 8.

*That’s it!
*

## Sum of Sq. in ANOVA and Regression

As you can probably guess, things get a little more complicated when you’re calculating sum of squares in regression analysis or hypothesis testing. It is rarely calculated by hand; instead, software like Excel or SPSS is usually used to calculate the result for you.

For reference, sum of squares in regression uses the equation:

And in ANOVA it is calculated with:

**The total SS = treatment sum of squares (SST) + SS of the residual error (SSE)**

## What is the Explained Sum of Squares?

The Explained SS tells you how much of the variation in the dependent variable your model explained.

Explained SS = Σ(Y-Hat – mean of Y)^{2}.

## What is the Residual Sum of Squares?

The residual sum of squares tells you how much of the dependent variable’s variation your model **did not explain**. It is the sum of the squared differences between the actual Y and the predicted Y:

Residual Sum of Squares = Σ e2

If all those formulas look confusing, don’t worry! It’s very, very unusual for you to want to use them. Finding the sum by hand is tedious and time-consuming. It involves a *lot* of subtracting, squaring and summing. Your calculations will be prone to errors, so you’re much better off using software like Excel to do the calculations. You won’t even need to know the actual formulas, as Excel works them behind the scenes.

## Uses

The smaller the residual sum of squares, the better your model fits your data; The greater the residual sum of squares, the poorer your model fits your data. A value of zero means your model is a perfect fit. One major use is in finding the coefficient of determination (R^{2}). The coefficient of determination is a ratio of the explained sum of squares to the total sum of squares.

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