Journal of Applied Physiology

Fitting piecewise linear regression functions to biological responses

E. Vieth


An iterative approach was achieved for fitting piecewise linear functions to nonrectilinear responses of biological variables. This algorithm is used to estimate the parameters of the two (or more) regression functions and the separation point(s) (thresholds, sensitivities) by statistical approximation. Although it is often unknown whether the response of a biological variable is adequately described by one rectilinear regression function or by piecewise linear regression function(s) with separation point(s), an F test is proposed to determine whether one regression line is the optimal fitted function. A FORTRAN-77 program has been developed for estimating the optimal parameters and the coordinates of the separation point(s). A few sets of data illustrating this kind of problem in the analysis of thermoregulation, osmoregulation, and the neuronal responses are discussed.