ASReml-R: Storing A inverse as a sparse matrix

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I was testing ASReml-R program (an R package that links propriety ASReml binaries that can be used only with valid licence) this week and had to do some manipulations with the numerator relationship matrix (A). ASReml-R provides a function (asreml.Ainverse) that can create inverse of A directly from the pedigree as this inverse is needed in pedigree based mixed model. Bulding inverse of A directly from a pedigree is a well known result dating back to Henderson in 1970s or so. The funny thing is that it is cheaper to setup inverse of A directly than to setup up first A and then to invert it. In addition, inverse of A is very spare so it is easy/cheap to store it. Documentation for asreml.Ainverse has a tiny example of usage. Since the result of this function is a list with several elements (data.frame with “triplets” for non-zero elements of inverse of A, inbreeding coefficients, …) example also shows how to create a matrix object in R as shown bellow:
library(package="asreml")
## Create test pedigree
ped 
So the inverse of A would be:
      [,1] [,2] [,3] [,4] [,5] [,6] [,7] [,8]      [,9]     [,10]
[1,]     5    0    0   -2   -2    0  0.0  0.0  0.000000  0.000000
[2,]     0    3    0    0    0   -2  0.0  0.0  0.000000  0.000000
[3,]     0    0    1    0    0    0  0.0  0.0  0.000000  0.000000
[4,]    -2    0    0    3    0    1 -2.0  0.0  0.000000  0.000000
[5,]    -2    0    0    0    3    1  0.0 -2.0  0.000000  0.000000
[6,]     0   -2    0    1    1    4 -2.0 -2.0  0.000000  0.000000
[7,]     0    0    0   -2    0   -2  4.5  0.5 -1.000000  0.000000
[8,]     0    0    0    0   -2   -2  0.5  4.5 -1.000000  0.000000
[9,]     0    0    0    0    0    0 -1.0 -1.0  4.909091 -2.909091
[10,]    0    0    0    0    0    0  0.0  0.0 -2.909091  2.909091
However, this is problematic as it creates a dense matrix – zero values are also stored (you can see them). If we would have 1,000 individuals, such a matrix would consume 7.6 Mb of RAM (= (((1000 * (1000 + 1)) / 2) * 16) / 2^20). This is not a lot, but with 10,000 individuals we would already need 763 Mb of RAM, which can create some bottlenecks. A solution is to create a sparse matrix using the Matrix R package. Luckily we have all the ingredients prepared by asreml.Ainverse function – the triplets. However, the essential R code is a bit daunting and I had to test several options before I figured it out – code from my previous post helped;)
## Load package
library(package="Matrix")
## Number of pedigree members
nI 
And the inverse of A is now:
10 x 10 sparse Matrix of class "dsCMatrix"
[[ suppressing 10 column names ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ ... ]]
                                       
1   5  . . -2 -2  .  .    .    .         .  
2   .  3 .  .  . -2  .    .    .         .  
3   .  . 1  .  .  .  .    .    .         .  
4  -2  . .  3  .  1 -2.0  .    .         .  
5  -2  . .  .  3  1  .   -2.0  .         .  
6   . -2 .  1  1  4 -2.0 -2.0  .         .  
7   .  . . -2  . -2  4.5  0.5 -1.000000  .  
8   .  . .  . -2 -2  0.5  4.5 -1.000000  .  
9   .  . .  .  .  . -1.0 -1.0  4.909091 -2.909091
10  .  . .  .  .  .  .    .   -2.909091  2.909091
you can clearly see the structure and it soon becomes obvious why such a storage is more efficient.
If we want to go back from matrix to triplet form (this might be useful if we want to create a matrix for programs as ASReml) we can use the following code:
## Convert back to triplet form - first the matrix
tmp2 

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