According to Bayes’ Theorem, the posterior distribution that a sample belong to class is given by
There are different types of Discriminant Analysis and they usually differ on the assumptions made about the conditional distribution .
Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA)
If we assume that in Eq. (1) follows a multivariate Gaussian distribution with a class-specific mean vector and a common covariance matrix we have that the of Eq. (2), referred here as discriminant function, is given by
which is a linear function in that defines separating class boundaries, hence the name LDA.
In practice , we estimate the prior probability , the class-specific mean and the covariance matrix by , and , respectively, where:
- , where is the number of class observations and is the total number of observations.
Quadratic Discriminant Analysis (QDA)
If instead we assume that in Eq. (1) follows a multivariate Gaussian with class-specific mean vector and covariance matrix we have a quadratic discriminant function
and the decision boundary between each pair of classes and is now described by a quadratic equation.
Notice that we pay a price for this increased flexibility when compared to LDA. We now have to estimate one covariance matrix for each class, which means a significant increase in the number of parameters to be estimated. This implies that the number of predictors needs to be less than the number of cases within each class to ensure that the class-specific covariance matrix is not singular. In addition, if the majority of the predictors in the data are indicators for discrete categories, QDA will only be able to model these as linear functions, thus limiting the effectiveness of the model .
Regularized Discriminant Analysis
Friedman (, ) proposed a compromise between LDA and QDA, which allows one to shrink the separate covariances of QDA toward a common covariance as in LDA. The regularized covariance matrices have the form
where is the common covariance matrix as used in LDA and is the class-specific covariance matrix as used in QDA. is a number between and that can be chosen based on the performance of the model on validation data, or by cross-validation.
It is also possible to allow to shrunk toward the spherical covariance
where is the identity matrix. The equation above means that, when , the predictors are assumed independent and with common variance . Replacing in Eq. (3) by leads to a more general family of covariances indexed by a pair of parameters that again can be chosen based on the model performance on validation data.
 Hastie, T., Tibshirani, R., Friedman, J. (2009). The elements of statistical learning: data mining, inference and prediction. Springer.
 Kuhn, M. and Johnson, K. (2013). Applied Predictive Modeling. Springer.
 Friedman, J. H. (1989). Regularized discriminant analysis. Journal of the American statistical association, 84(405), 165-175.