Re: [R] Kenward-Roger correction in lme

From: Douglas Bates <>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2008 13:24:34 -0600

On Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 1:46 PM, Peter Dalgaard <> wrote:
> Ben Bolker wrote:
> > stian <at> <stian <at>> writes:
> >
> >> Hi,I am wondering how to conduct Kenward-Roger correction in
> >> the linear mixed model using R. Any idea?
> >>
> >> Thanks a lot,
> >>
> >> Suyan
> >>
> >
> > Not really possible, I'm afraid. Having already invested a huge
> > amount of time in making lme4 available (and this is the cutting-edge
> > version of linear mixed models for R), Doug Bates has declined to
> > spend effort implementing K-R because (1) he's not convinced of the
> > appropriateness of adjusting F-distribution degrees of freedom in
> > this way, (2) he doesn't think that the K-R algorithm will be
> > feasible for the sorts of large-data problems he's interested in,
> > (3) [can't find the reference] he finds the correspondence between
> > K-R's notation and his difficult.

Regarding (2), it is more an issue of the structure of the model than of the size of the data set. One of the big differences between the lme4 package and the nlme package, or other software for fitting linear mixed models, is that lme4 is designed to handle models with non-nested random effects. The random effects can be completely crossed, such as in an experiment where a sample of subjects are each exposed to the same selection of items and the model incorporates random effects for both subject and item, or partially crossed where annual test scores may be associated with both the student taking the test and the teacher for the student that year.

It has been a while since I looked at the Kenward-Roger formulation but my recollection is that it would be difficult to extend the calculations to models with non-nested random effects. I am not opposed to the method in principle - it's just that I am not about to have the time to work on it myself in the foreseeable future. If someone else wants to work it out then I say go for it.

> The last one could be due to me rather than Doug, and certainly, it is
> just an obstacle rather than anything prohibitive in itself. I tend to
> think that (2) is "nontrivial" rather than "infeasible", but it is true
> that the K-R formulas depend on items like the covariance matrix (say,
> Sigma) for the entire data set, which is at best implicitly available in
> large-data problems. Whether or not it would be possible to work with
> implicit representations of Sigma is what is difficult to see because of
> the notational differences (it's been a while, but my recollection is
> that Doug uses Sigma for a different purpose, and there are a couple of
> similarly confusing notational switches).

Beyond notation there is a question of emphasis in the formulation of the model. Most of the theory of linear mixed models focuses on the marginal distribution of the response random variable. I have found it more useful to consider the distribution of the random effects, conditional on the observed values of the response. My latest attempts to explain the computational methods (slides at examine the conditional distribution of the random effects - in particular, the unnormalized conditional density of the random effects. In the case of a linear mixed model the logarithm of this density is a quadratic form. For a generalized linear mixed model or a nonlinear mixed model or a generalized nonlinear mixed model the conditional density can be optimized via a penalized IRLS or penalized NLS algorithm to obtain the conditional means and the conditional variance-covariance matrix.

I consider a linear transformation, U, of the random effects, B, for which Var(U) = sigma^2 I. By transforming to U I can incorporate the effect of the variance component parameters into a (sparse) model matrix A rather than into the variance-covariance matrix. The linear predictor that was expressed as eta = X beta + Z b is now X beta + A' u where A is the transpose of a sparse model matrix that is derived from Z. Evaluation of the deviance and related quantities hinges on calculating the sparse Cholesky factor L that satisfies LL' = AA' + I. (There is also a fixed permutation matrix. P, involved in that expression but it doesn't have any effect on the theory - although it can have a tremendous effect on the speed of the calculation.)

One reason for expressing the model in this way is because it is exactly the way that the calculations are carried out. There are slots named X, Zt (for Z-transpose), A and L in the object returned by lmer and they have exactly the meanings shown above.

It is possible to get an expression for the marginal variance-covariance of the response vector but it will be an n by n matrix and will only have nice sparsity patterns for models with nested random effects. For models with non-nested random effects this is potentially a dense n by n matrix and you really don't want to try working with that for large data sets. It may be possible to come up with a more compact expression that can be evaluated in a reasonably finite period of time or it may be necessary to restrict attention to only those models with nested random effects.

> The whole K-R theory (and others of its kind) has the same weakness as
> the t-distribution: It relies on 3rd and 4th moments of the data
> distribution, so it is going to be wrong if data are not Gaussian.
> However, it is still useful to know whether the correction is small or
> large under idealized conditions.


> > This should probably go on an FAQ list somewhere:
> >
> > By the way, RSiteSearch("Kenward-Roger") would have
> > yielded some information ...
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > For further information, please see the r-sig-mixed archives.
> >
> > cheers
> > Ben Bolker
> >
> > ______________________________________________
> > mailing list
> >
> > PLEASE do read the posting guide
> > and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
> >

> --
> O__ ---- Peter Dalgaard ุster Farimagsgade 5, Entr.B
> c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics PO Box 2099, 1014 Cph. K
> (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen Denmark Ph: (+45) 35327918
> ~~~~~~~~~~ - ( FAX: (+45) 35327907
> > >
> ______________________________________________
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> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
> mailing list PLEASE do read the posting guide and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code. Received on Tue 26 Feb 2008 - 19:29:17 GMT

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