The PLS Procedure

Overview: PLS Procedure

The PLS procedure fits models by using any one of a number of linear predictive methods, including partial least squares (PLS). Ordinary least squares regression, as implemented in SAS/STAT procedures such as PROC GLM and PROC REG, has the single goal of minimizing sample response prediction error, seeking linear functions of the predictors that explain as much variation in each response as possible. The techniques implemented in the PLS procedure have the additional goal of accounting for variation in the predictors, under the assumption that directions in the predictor space that are well sampled should provide better prediction for new observations when the predictors are highly correlated. All of the techniques implemented in the PLS procedure work by extracting successive linear combinations of the predictors, called factors (also called components, latent vectors, or latent variables), which optimally address one or both of these two goals—explaining response variation and explaining predictor variation. In particular, the method of partial least squares balances the two objectives, seeking factors that explain both response and predictor variation.

Note that the name partial least squares also applies to a more general statistical method that is not implemented in this procedure. The partial least squares method was originally developed in the 1960s by the econometrician Herman Wold (1966) for modeling paths of causal relation between any number of blocks of variables. However, the PLS procedure fits only predictive partial least squares models, with one block of predictors and one block of responses. If you are interested in fitting more general path models, you should consider using the CALIS procedure.