Latent Class Modelling Platform
In statistics, a latent class model (LCM) relates a set of observed (usually discrete) multivariate variables to a set of latent variables. It is a type of latent variable model. It is called a latent class model because the latent variable is discrete. A class is characterized by a pattern of conditional probabilities that indicate the chance that variables take on certain values.
Confronted with a situation as follows, a researcher might choose to use LCA to understand the data: Imagine that symptoms a-d have been measured in a range of patients with diseases X Y and Z, and that disease X is associated with the presence of symptoms a, b, and c, disease Y with symptoms b, c, d, and disease Z with symptoms a, c and d.
The LCA will attempt to detect the presence of latent classes (the disease entities), creating patterns of association in the symptoms. As in factor analysis, the LCA can also be used to classify case according to their maximum likelihood class membership.
Because the criterion for solving the LCA is to achieve latent classes within which there is no longer any association of one symptom with another (because the class is the disease which causes their association, and the set of diseases a patient has (or class a case is a member of) causes the symptom association, the symptoms will be "conditionally independent", i.e., conditional on class membership, they are no longer related.