[R] Linear models over large datasets

dave fournier otter at otter-rsch.com
Fri Aug 17 18:43:12 CEST 2007

 >Its actually only a few lines of code to do this from first principles.
 >The coefficients depend only on the cross products X'X and X'y and you
 >can build them up easily by extending this example to read files or
 >a database holding x and y instead of getting them from the args.
 >Here we process incr rows of builtin matrix state.x77 at a time
 >building up the two cross productxts, xtx and xty, regressing
 >Income (variable 2) on the other variables:

 >mylm <- function(x, y, incr = 25) {
 >	start <- xtx <- xty <- 0
 >	while(start < nrow(x)) {
 >	    idx <- seq(start + 1, min(start + incr, nrow(x)))
 >	    x1 <- cbind(1, x[idx,])
 >	    xtx <- xtx + crossprod(x1)
 >	    xty <- xty + crossprod(x1, y[idx])
 >	    start <- start + incr
 >	}
 >	solve(xtx, xty)

 >mylm(state.x77[,-2], state.x77[,2])

 >On 8/16/07, Alp ATICI <alpatici at gmail.com> wrote:
 > I'd like to fit linear models on very large datasets. My data frames
 > are about 2000000 rows x 200 columns of doubles and I am using an 64
 > bit build of R. I've googled about this extensively and went over the
 > "R Data Import/Export" guide. My primary issue is although my data
 > represented in ascii form is 4Gb in size (therefore much smaller
 > considered in binary), R consumes about 12Gb of virtual memory.
 > What exactly are my options to improve this? I looked into the biglm
 > package but the problem with it is it uses update() function and is
 > therefore not transparent (I am using a sophisticated script which is
 > hard to modify). I really liked the concept behind the  LM package
 > here: http://www.econ.uiuc.edu/~roger/research/rq/RMySQL.html
 > But it is no longer available. How could one fit linear models to very
 > large datasets without loading the entire set into memory but from a
 > file/database (possibly through a connection) using a relatively
 > simple modification of standard lm()? Alternatively how could one
 > improve the memory usage of R given a large dataset (by changing some
 > default parameters of R or even using on-the-fly compression)? I don't
 > mind much higher levels of CPU time required.
 > Thank you in advance for your help.
 > ______________________________________________
 > R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
 > https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
 > PLEASE do read the posting guide 
 > and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
If your design matrix X is very well behaved this approach may work for 
you. Often just doing solve(X'X,y) will fail for numerical reasons. The 
right way to do it is tofactor the matrix X  as

           X = A * B

where B is 200x200 in your case and A is  2000000 x 200 with
   A'*A = I  (That is A is orthogonal.)

so  X'*X = B' *B  and you use


To find A and B you can use modified Gram-Schmidt which is very easy to 
program and works well when you wish to store the columns of X on a hard 
disk and just read in a bit at a time. Some people claim that modifed 
Gram-Schmidt is unstable but it has always worked well for me.
In any event you can check  to ensure that A'*A = I and



David A. Fournier
P.O. Box 2040,
Sidney, B.C. V8l 3S3
Phone/FAX 250-655-3364

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