In the R software factor analysis is implemented by the factanal() function of the build-in stats package. The function performs maximum-likelihood factor analysis on a covariance matrix or data matrix. The number of factors to be fitted is specified by the argument factors. Further, the factor scores may be calculated either by using Thompsonâ€™s estimator or Bartlettâ€™s weighted least-squares scores method. The particular method is specified by an additional argument scores = "regression" or scores = "Bartlett". Moreover, by the additional argument rotation the transformation of the factors may be specified by either rotation = "varimax" for orthogonal rotation, rotation = "Bartlett" for oblique rotation or rotation = "none".

#### The data set

Let us get our hands dirty and apply a factor analysis on a the food-texture data set. We already discussed the data set in the section on principal component analysis, so you are probably familiar with the data set.

This open source data set is available here and describes texture measurements of a pastry-type food.

food <- read.csv("https://userpage.fu-berlin.de/soga/300/30100_data_sets/food-texture.csv",
row.names = "X")
str(food)
## 'data.frame':    50 obs. of  5 variables:
##  $Oil : num 16.5 17.7 16.2 16.7 16.3 19.1 18.4 17.5 15.7 16.4 ... ##$ Density : int  2955 2660 2870 2920 2975 2790 2750 2770 2955 2945 ...
##  $Crispy : int 10 14 12 10 11 13 13 10 11 11 ... ##$ Fracture: int  23 9 17 31 26 16 17 26 23 24 ...
##  $Hardness: int 97 139 143 95 143 189 114 63 123 132 ... The data set consists of 50 rows (observations) and 5 columns (features/variables). The features are: • Oil: percentage oil in the pastry • Density: the productâ€™s density (the higher the number, the more dense the product) • Crispy: a crispiness measurement, on a scale from 7 to 15, with 15 being more crispy. • Fracture: the angle, in degrees, through which the pasty can be slowly bent before it fractures. • Hardness: a sharp point is used to measure the amount of force required before breakage occurs. #### The factanal() function call In addition to the data set the factanal() function requires an estimate of the number of factors (factanal(data, factors = n)). This is a tricky aspect of factor analysis. If we have a hypothesis about the latent variables we may start with an informed guess. If we do not have any clue about the number of factors and the number of variables in the data set is not too large, one may simply try out several values for initializing the model. Another, more sophisticated approach is to use principal components analysis to get a good initial estimate of the number of factors. In this simple example we just make a guess and set the number of factor to be $$2$$. Further, we keep the defaults for the scores (score = "none") and the rotation (rotation = "varimax"). food.fa <- factanal(food, factors = 2) #### Interpretation of the results Before we interpret the results of the factor analysis recall the basic idea behind it. Factor analysis creates linear combinations of factors to abstract the variableâ€™s underlying communality. To the extent that the variables have an underlying communality, fewer factors capture most of the variance in the data set. This allows us to aggregate a large number of observable variables in a model to represent an underlying concept, making it easier to understand the data. The variability in our data, $$\mathbf X$$, is given by $$\Sigma$$, and its estimate $$\hat \Sigma$$ is composed of the variability explained by the factors explained be a linear combination of the factors (communality) and of the variability, which can not be explained by a linear combination of the factors (uniqueness). $\hat \Sigma = \underbrace{\hat\Lambda\hat\Lambda^T}_{\text{communality}} + \underbrace{\hat\Psi}_{\text{uniqueness}}$ food.fa ## ## Call: ## factanal(x = food, factors = 2) ## ## Uniquenesses: ## Oil Density Crispy Fracture Hardness ## 0.334 0.156 0.042 0.256 0.407 ## ## Loadings: ## Factor1 Factor2 ## Oil -0.816 ## Density 0.919 ## Crispy -0.745 0.635 ## Fracture 0.645 -0.573 ## Hardness 0.764 ## ## Factor1 Factor2 ## SS loadings 2.490 1.316 ## Proportion Var 0.498 0.263 ## Cumulative Var 0.498 0.761 ## ## Test of the hypothesis that 2 factors are sufficient. ## The chi square statistic is 0.27 on 1 degree of freedom. ## The p-value is 0.603 • The model output starts with the function call to remind us on the specifications of our function call. • The first chunk provides the uniquenesses, which range from $$0$$ to $$1$$. The uniqueness, sometimes referred to as noise, corresponds to the proportion of variability, which can not be explained by a linear combination of the factors. This is the $$\hat \Psi$$ in the equation above. A high uniqueness for a variable indicates that the factors do not account well for its variance. food.fa$uniquenesses
##       Oil   Density    Crispy  Fracture  Hardness
## 0.3338599 0.1555255 0.0422238 0.2560235 0.4069459
• The next section is the loadings, which range from $$-1$$ to $$1$$. This is the $$\hat \Lambda$$ in the equation above. The loadings are the contribution of each original variable to the factor. Variables with a high loading are well explained by the factor. Notice there is no entry for certain variables. That is because R does not print loadings less than $$0.1$$. This is meant to help us spot groups of variables. Type help(loadings) in your console for further details.

• By squaring the loading we compute the fraction of the variableâ€™s total variance explained by the factor (Teetor 2011). This proportion of the variability is denoted as communality. Another way to calculate the communality is to subtract the uniquenesses from $$1$$. An appropriate factor model results in low values for uniqueness and high values for communality.

apply(food.fa$loadings^2,1,sum) # communality ## Oil Density Crispy Fracture Hardness ## 0.6661398 0.8444745 0.9577762 0.7439766 0.5930539 1 - apply(food.fa$loadings^2,1,sum) # uniqueness
##       Oil   Density    Crispy  Fracture  Hardness
## 0.3338602 0.1555255 0.0422238 0.2560234 0.4069461
• The table beneath the loadings shows the proportion of variance explained by each factor. The row Cumulative Var gives the cumulative proportion of variance explained. These numbers range from $$0$$ to $$1$$. The row Proportion Var gives the proportion of variance explained by each factor, and the row SS loadings gives the sum of squared loadings. This is sometimes used to determine the value of a particular factor. A factor is worth keeping if the SS loading is greater than $$1$$ (Kaiserâ€™s rule).

• The last section of the function output shows the results of a hypothesis test. The null hypothesis, $$H_0$$, is that the number of factors in the model, in our example 2 factors, is sufficient to capture the full dimensionality of the data set. Conventionally, we reject $$H_0$$ if the p-value is less than $$0.05$$. Such a result indicates that the number of factors is too small. In contrast, we do not reject $$H_0$$ if the p-value exceeds $$0.05$$. Such a result indicates that there are likely enough (or more than enough) factors capture the full dimensionality of the data set (Teetor 2011). The high p-value in our example above leads us to not reject the $$H_0$$, and indicates that we fitted an appropriate model. This hypothesis test is available thanks to our method of estimation, maximum likelihood. Note that if you provide a covariance matrix to the factanal() function and not a data frame, the hypothesis test is not provided if we do not explicitly provide the number of observations (n.obs) as an additional argument to the function call.

#### The residual matrix

Recall the factor analysis model: $$\hat \Sigma = \hat\Lambda\hat\Lambda^T +\hat\Psi$$.

Using our factor model food.fa we may calculate $$\hat \Sigma$$ and compare it to the observed correlation matrix, $$S$$, by simple matrix algebra. The %*% operator performs matrix multiplication. The t() function transposes a matrix. The diag() function takes a vector of $$k$$ numbers and creates a $$k \times k$$ matrix with the numbers on the diagonal and $$0$$s everywhere else.

Lambda <- food.fa$loadings Psi <- diag(food.fa$uniquenesses)
S <- food.fa$correlation Sigma <- Lambda %*% t(Lambda) + Psi We now subtract the fitted correlation matrix, (Sigma) from our observed correlation matrix (S). We also round the result to 6 digits. round(S - Sigma, 6) ## Oil Density Crispy Fracture Hardness ## Oil 0.000000 0.000001 -0.002613 -0.018220 -0.000776 ## Density 0.000001 0.000000 -0.001081 -0.007539 -0.000320 ## Crispy -0.002613 -0.001081 0.000000 0.000000 0.000005 ## Fracture -0.018220 -0.007539 0.000000 0.000000 0.000033 ## Hardness -0.000776 -0.000320 0.000005 0.000033 0.000000 The resulting matrix is called the residual matrix. Numbers close to $$0$$ indicate that our factor model is a good representation of the underlying concept. #### Interpretation of the factors The purpose of a rotation is to produce factors with a mix of high and low loadings and few moderate-sized loadings. The idea is to give meaning to the factors, which helps interpret them. From a mathematical viewpoint, there is no difference between a rotated and unrotated matrix. The fitted model is the same, the uniquenesses are the same, and the proportion of variance explained is the same. Let us fit three factor models, one with no rotation, one with varimax rotation, and one with promax rotation, and make a scatter plot of the first and second loadings. food.fa.none <- factanal(food, factors = 2, rotation = "none") food.fa.varimax <- factanal(food, factors = 2, rotation = "varimax") food.fa.promax <- factanal(food, factors = 2, rotation = "promax") par(mfrow = c(1,3)) plot(food.fa.none$loadings[,1],
food.fa.none$loadings[,2], xlab = "Factor 1", ylab = "Factor 2", ylim = c(-1,1), xlim = c(-1,1), main = "No rotation") abline(h = 0, v = 0) plot(food.fa.varimax$loadings[,1],
food.fa.varimax$loadings[,2], xlab = "Factor 1", ylab = "Factor 2", ylim = c(-1,1), xlim = c(-1,1), main = "Varimax rotation") text(food.fa.varimax$loadings[,1]-0.08,
food.fa.varimax$loadings[,2]+0.08, colnames(food), col="blue") abline(h = 0, v = 0) plot(food.fa.promax$loadings[,1],
abline(h = 0, v = 0)