Central Clustering of Categorical Data with Automated Feature Weighting

AAAI Conferences

The ability to cluster high-dimensional categorical data is essential for many machine learning applications such as bioinfomatics. Currently, central clustering of categorical data is a difficult problem due to the lack of a geometrically interpretable definition of a cluster center. In this paper, we propose a novel kernel-density-based definition using a Bayes-type probability estimator. Then, a new algorithm called k-centers is proposed for central clustering of categorical data, incorporating a new feature weighting scheme by which each attribute is automatically assigned with a weight measuring its individual contribution for the clusters. Experimental results on real-world data show outstanding performance of the proposed algorithm, especially in recognizing the biological patterns in DNA sequences.

CatBoost vs. Light GBM vs. XGBoost


I recently participated in this Kaggle competition (WIDS Datathon by Stanford) where I was able to land up in Top 10 using various boosting algorithms. Since then, I have been very curious about the fine workings of each model including parameter tuning, pros and cons and hence decided to write this blog. Despite the recent re-emergence and popularity of neural networks, I am focusing on boosting algorithms because they are still more useful in the regime of limited training data, little training time and little expertise for parameter tuning. Since XGBoost (often called GBM Killer) has been in the machine learning world for a longer time now with lots of articles dedicated to it, this post will focus more on CatBoost & LGBM. LightGBM uses a novel technique of Gradient-based One-Side Sampling (GOSS) to filter out the data instances for finding a split value while XGBoost uses pre-sorted algorithm & Histogram-based algorithm for computing the best split.

CRAFT: ClusteR-specific Assorted Feature selecTion

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We present a framework for clustering with cluster-specific feature selection. The framework, CRAFT, is derived from asymptotic log posterior formulations of nonparametric MAP-based clustering models. CRAFT handles assorted data, i.e., both numeric and categorical data, and the underlying objective functions are intuitively appealing. The resulting algorithm is simple to implement and scales nicely, requires minimal parameter tuning, obviates the need to specify the number of clusters a priori, and compares favorably with other methods on real datasets.

Understanding Feature Engineering (Part 2) -- Categorical Data


We covered various feature engineering strategies for dealing with structured continuous numeric data in the previous article in this series. In this article, we will look at another type of structured data, which is discrete in nature and is popularly termed as categorical data. Dealing with numeric data is often easier than categorical data given that we do not have to deal with additional complexities of the semantics pertaining to each category value in any data attribute which is of a categorical type. We will use a hands-on approach to discuss several encoding schemes for dealing with categorical data and also a couple of popular techniques for dealing with large scale feature explosion, often known as the "curse of dimensionality".

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Feature Extraction


Good Features are the backbone of any machine learning model. And good feature creation often needs domain knowledge, creativity, and lots of time. TLDR; this post is about useful feature engineering methods and tricks that I have learned and end up using often. Have you read about featuretools yet? If not, then you are going to be delighted.