Optimal design theory provides a general framework for the construction of experimental designs for categorical responses. For a binary response, where the possible result is one of two outcomes, the logistic regression model is widely used to relate a set of experimental factors with the probability of a positive (or negative) outcome. This research investigates and proposes alternative designs to alleviate the problem of separation in small-sample D-optimal designs for the logistic regression model. Separation causes the non-existence of maximum likelihood parameter estimates and presents a serious problem for model fitting purposes.
First, it is shown that exact, multi-factor D-optimal designs for the logistic regression model can be susceptible to separation. Several logistic regression models are specified, and exact D-optimal designs of fixed sizes are constructed for each model. Sets of simulated response data are generated to estimate the probability of separation in each design. This study proves through simulation that small-sample D-optimal designs are prone to separation and that separation risk is dependent on the specified model. Additionally, it is demonstrated that exact designs of equal size constructed for the same models may have significantly different chances of encountering separation.
The second portion of this research establishes an effective strategy for augmentation, where additional design runs are judiciously added to eliminate separation that has occurred in an initial design. A simulation study is used to demonstrate that augmenting runs in regions of maximum prediction variance (MPV), where the predicted probability of either response category is 50%, most reliably eliminates separation. However, it is also shown that MPV augmentation tends to yield augmented designs with lower D-efficiencies.
The final portion of this research proposes a novel compound optimality criterion, DMP, that is used to construct locally optimal and robust compromise designs. A two-phase coordinate exchange algorithm is implemented to construct exact locally DMP-optimal designs. To address design dependence issues, a maximin strategy is proposed for designating a robust DMP-optimal design. A case study demonstrates that the maximin DMP-optimal design maintains comparable D-efficiencies to a corresponding Bayesian D-optimal design while offering significantly improved separation performance.