An Online Hierarchical Algorithm for Extreme Clustering

author: Ari Kobren, Department of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst
published: Oct. 9, 2017,   recorded: August 2017,   views: 8
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Description

Many modern clustering methods scale well to a large number of data items, N, but not to a large number of clusters, K. This paper introduces PERCH, a new non-greedy algorithm for online hierarchical clustering that scales to both massive N and K--a problem setting we term extreme clustering. Our algorithm efficiently routes new data points to the leaves of an incrementally-built tree. Motivated by the desire for both accuracy and speed, our approach performs tree rotations for the sake of enhancing subtree purity and encouraging balancedness. We prove that, under a natural separability assumption, our non-greedy algorithm will produce trees with perfect dendrogram purity regardless of online data arrival order. Our experiments demonstrate that PERCH constructs more accurate trees than other tree-building clustering algorithms and scales well with both N and K, achieving a higher quality clustering than the strongest flat clustering competitor in nearly half the time.

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