The RcppCensSpatial package

The RcppCensSpatial package fits a spatial censored linear regression model using the Expectation-Maximization (EM) (Dempster, Laird, and Rubin 1977), Stochastic Approximation EM (SAEM) (Delyon, Lavielle, and Moulines 1999), or Monte Carlo EM (MCEM) (Wei and Tanner 1990) algorithm. These algorithms are widely used to compute the maximum likelihood (ML) estimates for incomplete data problems. The EM algorithm computes the ML estimates when a closed expression for the conditional expectation of the complete-data log-likelihood function is available. In the MCEM algorithm, the conditional expectation is substituted by a Monte Carlo approximation based on many independent simulations of the partially observed data. In contrast, the SAEM algorithm splits the E-step into simulation and integration steps.

This package also approximates the standard error of the estimates using the method developed by Louis (1982) and supports missing values on the dependent variable. Moreover, it has a function that performs spatial prediction in new locations. It also allows computing the covariance matrix and the distance matrix. For more information about the model formulation and estimation, please see Ordoñez et al. (2018) and Valeriano et al. (2021).

The RcppCensSpatial library provides the following functions:

print, summary, predict, and plot functions also work for the sclm class.

Next, we will describe how to install the package and use all the previous methods in an artificial example.


The released version of RcppCensSpatial from CRAN can be installed with:



In the following example, we simulate a dataset of length n = 220 from the spatial linear regression model considering three covariates and the exponential correlation function to deal with the variation between spatial points. In order to evaluate the prediction accuracy, the dataset is train-test split. The training data consists of 200 observations, with 5% censored to the left, while the testing data contains 20 observations.


n = 220
x = cbind(1, runif(n), rnorm(n))
coords = round(matrix(runif(2*n, 0, 15), n, 2), 5)
dat = rCensSp(beta=c(1,2,-1), sigma2=1, phi=4, nugget=0.50, x=x, coords=coords,
              cens='left', pcens=.05, npred=20, cov.model="exponential")
# Proportion of censoring
#>   0   1 
#> 190  10

For comparison purposes, we fit the spatial censored linear model for the simulated data using three approaches: EM, MCEM, and SAEM algorithm. Each method considers the same maximum number of iterations MaxIter=300, and the spatial correlation function used in the simulation process, i.e., type='exponential', the default value. Other types of spatial correlation functions available are 'matern', 'gaussian', and 'pow.exp'.

data1 = dat$Data

# EM estimation
fit1 = EM.sclm(data1$y, data1$x, data1$ci, data1$lcl, data1$ucl, data1$coords, 
               phi0=3, nugget0=1, MaxIter=300)
#>       beta0  beta1   beta2 sigma2    phi   tau2
#>      0.6959 1.7894 -0.9477 1.2032 4.3018 0.3824
#> s.e. 0.4848 0.2027  0.0592 0.5044 2.2872 0.0793

# MCEM estimation
fit2 = MCEM.sclm(data1$y, data1$x, data1$ci, data1$lcl, data1$ucl, data1$coords, 
                 phi0=3, nugget0=1, MaxIter=300, nMax=1000)
#>       beta0  beta1   beta2 sigma2    phi   tau2
#>      0.6952 1.7896 -0.9476 1.2069 4.3216 0.3828
#> s.e. 0.4868 0.2025  0.0592 0.5121 2.3144 0.0793

# SAEM estimation
fit3 = SAEM.sclm(data1$y, data1$x, data1$ci, data1$lcl, data1$ucl, data1$coords, 
                 phi0=3, nugget0=1, M=10)
#>       beta0  beta1   beta2 sigma2    phi   tau2
#>      0.6959 1.7883 -0.9471 1.2060 4.3207 0.3811
#> s.e. 0.4865 0.2021  0.0590 0.5096 2.3125 0.0791

Note that the estimates obtained for each parameter are similar and close to the true parameter value, except for the first regression coefficient, which was estimated close to 0.70, while the true value was equal to 1.

Moreover, generic functions print and summary return some results of the fit for the sclm class, such as the estimated parameters, standard errors, the effective range, the information criteria, and some convergence details.

#> ----------------------------------------------------------------
#>            Spatial Censored Linear Regression Model   
#> ----------------------------------------------------------------
#> Call:
#> SAEM.sclm(y = data1$y, x = data1$x, ci = data1$ci, lcl = data1$lcl, 
#>     ucl = data1$ucl, coords = data1$coords, phi0 = 3, nugget0 = 1, 
#>     M = 10)
#> Estimated parameters:
#>       beta0  beta1   beta2 sigma2    phi   tau2
#>      0.6959 1.7883 -0.9471 1.2060 4.3207 0.3811
#> s.e. 0.4865 0.2021  0.0590 0.5096 2.3125 0.0791
#> The effective range is 12.9436 units.
#> Model selection criteria:
#>         Loglik     AIC     BIC
#> Value -251.323 514.645 534.435
#> Details:
#> Number of censored/missing values: 10 
#> Convergence reached?: TRUE 
#> Iterations: 161 / 300 
#> Processing time: 37.2335 secs

On the other hand, the function plot provides convergence graphics for the parameters.


Now, we compute the predicted values for each fitted model for the testing data and compare the mean squared prediction error (MSPE).

data2 = dat$TestData
pred1 = predict(fit1, data2$coords, data2$x)
pred2 = predict(fit2, data2$coords, data2$x)
pred3 = predict(fit3, data2$coords, data2$x)

# Cross-validation
mean((data2$y - pred1$predValues)^2)
#> [1] 1.595305
mean((data2$y - pred2$predValues)^2)
#> [1] 1.591421
mean((data2$y - pred3$predValues)^2)
#> [1] 1.594899


Delyon, B., M. Lavielle, and E. Moulines. 1999. “Convergence of a Stochastic Approximation Version of the EM Algorithm.” The Annals of Statistics 27 (1): 94–128.
Dempster, A. P., N. M. Laird, and D. B. Rubin. 1977. “Maximum Likelihood from Incomplete Data via the EM Algorithm.” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Methodological) 39 (1): 1–38.
Louis, T. A. 1982. “Finding the Observed Information Matrix When Using the EM Algorithm.” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Methodological) 44 (2): 226–33.
Ordoñez, J. A., D. Bandyopadhyay, V. H. Lachos, and C. R. B. Cabral. 2018. “Geostatistical Estimation and Prediction for Censored Responses.” Spatial Statistics 23: 109–23.
Valeriano, K. L., V. H. Lachos, M. O. Prates, and L. A. Matos. 2021. “Likelihood-Based Inference for Spatiotemporal Data with Censored and Missing Responses.” Environmetrics 32 (3).
Wei, G., and M. Tanner. 1990. “A Monte Carlo Implementation of the EM Algorithm and the Poor Man’s Data Augmentation Algorithms.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 85 (411): 699–704.