[R] Possible bug in lmer nested analysis with factors
h.y.wong at leeds.ac.uk
Tue Sep 20 12:16:05 CEST 2005
On 18 Sep 2005, at 16:27, Douglas Bates wrote:
> I have a couple of other comments. You can write the nested grouping
> factors as Sundar did without having to explicitly evaluate the
> interaction term and drop unused levels. The lmer function, like most
> modeling functions in R, uses the optional argument drop.unused.levels
> = TRUE when creating the model frame.
In other words, the use of "b:c" in a model formula, where both b and c
are factors, results in an internal call to evalq(b:c)[,drop=T] (or
equivalent), which is treated as a factor in a temporary model data
frame? I know little of the internals to R - that is new to me,
but does make sense for factors.
Thus I could use |a:b and |a:b:c as random terms in lme or lmer, even
though 'a' is a fixed, unnested factor.
Notation like this in the model formula does indeed aid clarity. By the
way, I noticed that in your mlmRev vignette you recommended this as good
practice for lea:school (page 3), but then omitted to do it on page 4.
> John Maindonald has already suggested the use of
> (1|b/c) => (1|b:c) + (1|b)
> as "syntactic sugar" for the lmer formula and it is a reasonable
This is, indeed, the behaviour I was expecting.
> Unfortunately, implementing this is not high on my priority
> list at present. (We just made a massive change in the sparse matrix
> implementation in the Matrix package and shaking the bugs out of that
> will take a while.)
All your efforts in these areas are, I'm sure, much appreciated. I'm
certainly very interested in learning to use lmer, and welcome all the
improvements that are being made.
> In any case the general recommendation for nested grouping factors is
> first to ensure that they are stored as factors and then to create the
> sequence of interaction terms.
As a brief aside, I know that some people assume that lme treats random
effects as factors even if they are of a numeric type. It might be worth
doing a check in lmer (and even lme) that random effects are factors,
producing a warning if not. Again, this is a non-vital suggestion, and I
don't wish to take up any more of your time!
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