NIPS Proceedingsβ

Dip-means: an incremental clustering method for estimating the number of clusters

Part of: Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 25 (NIPS 2012)

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Learning the number of clusters is a key problem in data clustering. We present dip-means, a novel robust incremental method to learn the number of data clusters that may be used as a wrapper around any iterative clustering algorithm of the k-means family. In contrast to many popular methods which make assumptions about the underlying cluster distributions, dip-means only assumes a fundamental cluster property: each cluster to admit a unimodal distribution. The proposed algorithm considers each cluster member as a ''viewer'' and applies a univariate statistic hypothesis test for unimodality (dip-test) on the distribution of the distances between the viewer and the cluster members. Two important advantages are: i) the unimodality test is applied on univariate distance vectors, ii) it can be directly applied with kernel-based methods, since only the pairwise distances are involved in the computations. Experimental results on artificial and real datasets indicate the effectiveness of our method and its superiority over analogous approaches.