Instead of getting huge predictive power, model-based (or component-wise) boosting aggregates statistical models to maintain interpretability. This is done by restricting the used base-learners to be linear in the parameters. This is important in terms of parameter estimation. For instance, having a base-learner $$b_j(x, \theta^{[m]})$$ of a feature $$x$$ with a corresponding parameter vector $$\theta^{[m]}$$ and another base-learner $$b_j$$ of the same type but with a different parameter vector $$\theta^{[m^\prime]}$$, then it is possible, due to linearity, to combine those two learners to a new one, again, of the same type: $b_j(x, \theta^{[m]}) + b_j(x, \theta^{[m^\prime]}) = b_j(x, \theta^{[m]} + \theta^{[m^\prime]})$ So, instead of boosting trees like xgboost, model-based boosting uses a selection of important base-learners, each with estimated parameters.

The ordinary way of finding good base-learners is done by a greedy search. Therefore, in each iteration, all base-learners are fitted to the so-called pseudo residuals in the current iteration that act as a kind of error of the actual model. A new base-learner is then selected by choosing the base-learner with the smallest empirical risk $$\mathcal{R}_\text{emp}$$. The illustration above uses three base-learners $$b_1$$, $$b_2$$, and $$b_3$$. You can think of each base-learner as a wrapper around a feature or category which represents the effect of that feature on the target variable. Therefore, if a base-learner is selected more frequently than another base-learner, it indicates that this base-learner (or feature) is more important. To get a sparser model in terms of selected features there is also a learning rate $$\beta$$ to shrink the parameter in each iteration. The learning rate corresponds to the step size used in gradient descent. The three models within each iteration of the illustration are: \begin{align} \text{Iteration 1:} \ &\hat{f}^{}(x) = f_0 + \beta b_3(x_3, \theta^{}) \\ \text{Iteration 2:} \ &\hat{f}^{}(x) = f_0 + \beta b_3(x_3, \theta^{}) + \beta b_3(x_3, \theta^{}) \\ \text{Iteration 3:} \ &\hat{f}^{}(x) = f_0 + \beta b_3(x_3, \theta^{}) + \beta b_3(x_3, \theta^{}) + \beta b_1(x_1, \theta^{}) \end{align} Using the linearity of the base-learners it is possible to aggregate the $$b_3$$ base-learners: $\hat{f}^{}(x) = f_0 + \beta \left( b_3(x_3, \theta^{} + \theta^{}) + b_1(x_1, \theta^{}) \right)$

This is a very simple example but it displays the main strength of model-based boosting such as an inherent variable selection very well. Since the fitting is done iteratively on the single base-learners, model-based boosting is also a very efficient approach for data situations where $$p \gg n$$, which is learning in high-dimensional feature spaces. For instance, genomic data where the number of features $$p$$ could be several thousand but the number of observations are not more than a few hundred.