The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Living Edition
| Editors: Palgrave Macmillan

Least Squares

  • Halbert White
Living reference work entry


The method of least squares is a statistical technique used to determine the best linear or nonlinear regression line. The method, developed independently by Legendre (1805), Gauss (1806, 1809) and Adrain (1808), has a rich and lengthy history described in an excellent six-part article by Harter (1974–6). Least squares is the technique most widely used for fitting regression lines because of its computational simplicity and because of particular optimality properties described below. Primary among these are the facts that it gives the best linear unbiased estimator (BLUE) in the case of linear regression and that it gives the maximum likelihood estimator (MLE) in the case of regression with Gaussian (normal) errors.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Halbert White
    • 1
  1. 1.