An Experimental Comparison of Several Clustering and Initialization Methods
Marina Meila, David Heckerman
We examine methods for clustering in high dimensions. In the first part of the paper, we perform an experimental comparison between three batch clustering algorithms: the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm, a winner take all version of the EM algorithm reminiscent of the K-means algorithm, and model-based hierarchical agglomerative clustering. We learn naive-Bayes models with a hidden root node, using high-dimensional discrete-variable data sets (both real and synthetic). We find that the EM algorithm significantly outperforms the other methods, and proceed to investigate the effect of various initialization schemes on the final solution produced by the EM algorithm. The initializations that we consider are (1) parameters sampled from an uninformative prior, (2) random perturbations of the marginal distribution of the data, and (3) the output of hierarchical agglomerative clustering. Although the methods are substantially different, they lead to learned models that are strikingly similar in quality.
Keywords: Clustering, model-based clustering, Naive-Bayes Model, EM algorithm,
PDF Link: /papers/98/p386-meila.pdf
AUTHOR = "Marina Meila
and David Heckerman",
TITLE = "An Experimental Comparison of Several Clustering and Initialization Methods",
BOOKTITLE = "Proceedings of the Fourteenth Conference Annual Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI-98)",
PUBLISHER = "Morgan Kaufmann",
ADDRESS = "San Francisco, CA",
YEAR = "1998",
PAGES = "386--395"