Accurate Estimation of Structural Equation Models with Remote Partitioned Data

  • Joshua SnokeEmail author
  • Timothy Brick
  • Aleksandra Slavković
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9867)


This paper focuses on a privacy paradigm centered around providing access to researchers to remotely carry out analyses on sensitive data stored behind firewalls. We develop and demonstrate a method for accurate estimation of structural equation models (SEMs) for arbitrarily partitioned data. We show that under a certain set of assumptions our method for estimation across these partitions achieves identical results as estimation with the full data. We consider two situations: (i) a standard setting with a trusted central server and (ii) a round-robin setting in which none of the parties are fully trusted, and extend them in two specific ways. First, we formulate our methods specifically for SEMs, which have become increasingly common models in psychology, human development, and the behavioral sciences. Secondly, our methods work for horizontal, vertical, and complex partitions without needing different routines. In application, this method will serve to increase opportunities for research by allowing SEM estimation without transfer or combination of data. We demonstrate our methods with both simulated and real data examples.


Statistical disclosure control Partitioned data Structural Equation Models Distributed Maximum Likelihood Estimation 



This work was supported in part by NSF grants Big Data Social Sciences IGERT DGE-1144860 to Pennsylvania State University, and BCS-0941553 and SES-1534433 to the Department of Statistics, Pennsylvania State University. The work was also in part supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Grant UL1 TR000127. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua Snoke
    • 1
    Email author
  • Timothy Brick
    • 2
  • Aleksandra Slavković
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of StatisticsPennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesPennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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