Balcan, Maria Florina, Ehrlich, Steven, Liang, Yingyu

This paper provides new algorithms for distributed clustering for two popular center-based objectives, k-median and k-means. These algorithms have provable guarantees and improve communication complexity over existing approaches. Following a classic approach in clustering by \cite{har2004coresets}, we reduce the problem of finding a clustering with low cost to the problem of finding a coreset of small size. We provide a distributed method for constructing a global coreset which improves over the previous methods by reducing the communication complexity, and which works over general communication topologies. Experimental results on large scale data sets show that this approach outperforms other coreset-based distributed clustering algorithms.

Maier, Markus, Luxburg, Ulrike V., Hein, Matthias

Graph clustering methods such as spectral clustering are defined for general weighted graphs. In machine learning, however, data often is not given in form of a graph, but in terms of similarity (or distance) values between points. In this case, first a neighborhood graph is constructed using the similarities between the points and then a graph clustering algorithm is applied to this graph. In this paper we investigate the influence of the construction of the similarity graph on the clustering results. We first study the convergence of graph clustering criteria such as the normalized cut (Ncut) as the sample size tends to infinity. We find that the limit expressions are different for different types of graph, for example the r-neighborhood graph or the k-nearest neighbor graph. In plain words: Ncut on a kNN graph does something systematically different than Ncut on an r-neighborhood graph! This finding shows that graph clustering criteria cannot be studied independently of the kind of graph they are applied to. We also provide examples which show that these differences can be observed for toy and real data already for rather small sample sizes.

Maier, Markus, Luxburg, Ulrike V., Hein, Matthias

Maier, Markus, Luxburg, Ulrike V., Hein, Matthias

Graph clustering methods such as spectral clustering are defined for general weighted graphs. In machine learning, however, data often is not given in form of a graph, but in terms of similarity (or distance) values between points. In this case, first a neighborhood graph is constructed using the similarities between the points and then a graph clustering algorithm is applied to this graph.

Maier, Markus, Hein, Matthias, von Luxburg, Ulrike

We study clustering algorithms based on neighborhood graphs on a random sample of data points. The question we ask is how such a graph should be constructed in order to obtain optimal clustering results. Which type of neighborhood graph should one choose, mutual k-nearest neighbor or symmetric k-nearest neighbor? What is the optimal parameter k? In our setting, clusters are defined as connected components of the t-level set of the underlying probability distribution. Clusters are said to be identified in the neighborhood graph if connected components in the graph correspond to the true underlying clusters. Using techniques from random geometric graph theory, we prove bounds on the probability that clusters are identified successfully, both in a noise-free and in a noisy setting. Those bounds lead to several conclusions. First, k has to be chosen surprisingly high (rather of the order n than of the order log n) to maximize the probability of cluster identification. Secondly, the major difference between the mutual and the symmetric k-nearest neighbor graph occurs when one attempts to detect the most significant cluster only.