On a Theory of Nonparametric Pairwise Similarity for Clustering: Connecting Clustering to Classification

Neural Information Processing Systems

Pairwise clustering methods partition the data space into clusters by the pairwise similarity between data points. The success of pairwise clustering largely depends on the pairwise similarity function defined over the data points, where kernel similarity is broadly used. In this paper, we present a novel pairwise clustering framework by bridging the gap between clustering and multi-class classification. This pairwise clustering framework learns an unsupervised nonparametric classifier from each data partition, and search for the optimal partition of the data by minimizing the generalization error of the learned classifiers associated with the data partitions. We consider two nonparametric classifiers in this framework, i.e. the nearest neighbor classifier and the plug-in classifier. Modeling the underlying data distribution by nonparametric kernel density estimation, the generalization error bounds for both unsupervised nonparametric classifiers are the sum of nonparametric pairwise similarity terms between the data points for the purpose of clustering. Under uniform distribution, the nonparametric similarity terms induced by both unsupervised classifiers exhibit a well known form of kernel similarity. We also prove that the generalization error bound for the unsupervised plug-in classifier is asymptotically equal to the weighted volume of cluster boundary for Low Density Separation, a widely used criteria for semi-supervised learning and clustering. Based on the derived nonparametric pairwise similarity using the plug-in classifier, we propose a new nonparametric exemplar-based clustering method with enhanced discriminative capability, whose superiority is evidenced by the experimental results.


On a Theory of Nonparametric Pairwise Similarity for Clustering: Connecting Clustering to Classification

Neural Information Processing Systems

The success of pairwise clustering largely depends on the pairwise similarity function defined over the data points, where kernel similarity is broadly used. In this paper, we present a novel pairwise clustering framework by bridging the gap between clustering and multi-class classification. This pairwise clustering framework learns an unsupervised nonparametric classifier from each data partition, and search for the optimal partition of the data by minimizing the generalization error of the learned classifiers associated with the data partitions. We consider two nonparametric classifiers in this framework, i.e. the nearest neighbor classifier and the plug-in classifier. Modeling the underlying data distribution by nonparametric kernel density estimation, the generalization error bounds for both unsupervised nonparametric classifiers are the sum of nonparametric pairwise similarity terms between the data points for the purpose of clustering.


Extracting Certainty from Uncertainty: Transductive Pairwise Classification from Pairwise Similarities

Neural Information Processing Systems

In this work, we study the problem of transductive pairwise classification from pairwise similarities \footnote{The pairwise similarities are usually derived from some side information instead of the underlying class labels.}. The goal of transductive pairwise classification from pairwise similarities is to infer the pairwise class relationships, to which we refer as pairwise labels, between all examples given a subset of class relationships for a small set of examples, to which we refer as labeled examples. We propose a very simple yet effective algorithm that consists of two simple steps: the first step is to complete the sub-matrix corresponding to the labeled examples and the second step is to reconstruct the label matrix from the completed sub-matrix and the provided similarity matrix. Our analysis exhibits that under several mild preconditions we can recover the label matrix with a small error, if the top eigen-space that corresponds to the largest eigenvalues of the similarity matrix covers well the column space of label matrix and is subject to a low coherence, and the number of observed pairwise labels is sufficiently enough. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm by several experiments.


Extracting Certainty from Uncertainty: Transductive Pairwise Classification from Pairwise Similarities

Neural Information Processing Systems

In this work, we study the problem of transductive pairwise classification from pairwise similarities~\footnote{The pairwise similarities are usually derived from some side information instead of the underlying class labels.}. The goal of transductive pairwise classification from pairwise similarities is to infer the pairwise class relationships, to which we refer as pairwise labels, between all examples given a subset of class relationships for a small set of examples, to which we refer as labeled examples. We propose a very simple yet effective algorithm that consists of two simple steps: the first step is to complete the sub-matrix corresponding to the labeled examples and the second step is to reconstruct the label matrix from the completed sub-matrix and the provided similarity matrix. Our analysis exhibits that under several mild preconditions we can recover the label matrix with a small error, if the top eigen-space that corresponds to the largest eigenvalues of the similarity matrix covers well the column space of label matrix and is subject to a low coherence, and the number of observed pairwise labels is sufficiently enough. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm by several experiments.


Pairwise Neural Network Classifiers with Probabilistic Outputs

Neural Information Processing Systems

Multi-class classification problems can be efficiently solved by partitioning the original problem into sub-problems involving only two classes: for each pair of classes, a (potentially small) neural network is trained using only the data of these two classes. We show how to combine the outputs of the two-class neural networks in order to obtain posterior probabilities for the class decisions. The resulting probabilistic pairwise classifier is part of a handwriting recognition system which is currently applied to check reading. We present results on real world data bases and show that, from a practical point of view, these results compare favorably to other neural network approaches.