Linear Time Algorithms for k-means with Multi-Swap Local Search

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Junyu Huang, Qilong Feng, Ziyun Huang, Jinhui Xu, Jianxin Wang


The local search methods have been widely used to solve the clustering problems. In practice, local search algorithms for clustering problems mainly adapt the single-swap strategy, which enables them to handle large-scale datasets and achieve linear running time in the data size. However, compared with multi-swap local search algorithms, there is a considerable gap on the approximation ratios of the single-swap local search algorithms. Although the current multi-swap local search algorithms provide small constant approximation, the proposed algorithms tend to have large polynomial running time, which cannot be used to handle large-scale datasets. In this paper, we propose a multi-swap local search algorithm for the $k$-means problem with linear running time in the data size. Given a swap size $t$, our proposed algorithm can achieve a $(50(1+\frac{1}{t})+\epsilon)$-approximation, which improves the current best result 509 (ICML 2019) with linear running time in the data size. Our proposed method, compared with previous multi-swap local search algorithms, is the first one to achieve linear running time in the data size. To obtain a more practical algorithm for the problem with better clustering quality and running time, we propose a sampling-based method which accelerates the process of clustering cost update during swaps. Besides, a recombination mechanism is proposed to find potentially better solutions. Empirical experiments show that our proposed algorithms achieve better performances compared with branch and bound solver (NeurIPS 2022) and other existing state-of-the-art local search algorithms on both small and large datasets.