Generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) provide an elegant framework for the analysis of correlated data. Due to the non-closed form of the likelihood, GLMMs are often fit by computational procedures like penalized quasi-likelihood (PQL). Special cases of these models are generalized linear models (GLMs), which are often fit using algorithms like iterative weighted least squares (IWLS). High computational costs and memory space constraints often make it difficult to apply these iterative procedures to data sets with very large number of cases.

This paper proposes a computationally efficient strategy based on the Gauss-Seidel algorithm that iteratively fits sub-models of the GLMM to subsetted versions of the data. Additional gains in efficiency are achieved for Poisson models, commonly used in disease mapping problems, because of their special collapsibility property which allows data reduction through summaries. Convergence of the proposed iterative procedure is guaranteed for canonical link functions. The strategy is applied to investigate the relationship between ischemic heart disease, socioeconomic status and age/gender category in New South Wales, Australia, based on outcome data consisting of approximately 33 million records. A simulation study demonstrates the algorithm's reliability in analyzing a data set with 12 million records for a (non-collapsible) logistic regression model.


Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Numerical Analysis and Computation | Statistical Models