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K-groups: a generalization of K-means clustering

Songzi Li, Maria L. Rizzo

We propose a new class of distribution-based clustering algorithms, called k-groups, based on energy distance between samples. The energy distance clustering criterion assigns observations to clusters according to a multi-sample energy statistic that measures the distance between distributions. The energy distance determines a consistent test for equality of distributions, and it is based on a population distance that characterizes equality of distributions. The k-groups procedure therefore generalizes the k-means method, which separates clusters that have different means. We propose two k-groups algorithms: k-groups by first variation; and k-groups by second variation. The implementation of k-groups is partly based on Hartigan and Wong's algorithm for k-means. The algorithm is generalized from moving one point on each iteration (first variation) to moving $m$ $(m > 1)$ points. For univariate data, we prove that Hartigan and Wong's k-means algorithm is a special case of k-groups by first variation. The simulation results from univariate and multivariate cases show that our k-groups algorithms perform as well as Hartigan and Wong's k-means algorithm when clusters are well-separated and normally distributed. Moreover, both k-groups algorithms perform better than k-means when data does not have a finite first moment or data has strong skewness and heavy tails. For non--spherical clusters, both k-groups algorithms performed better than k-means in high dimension, and k-groups by first variation is consistent as dimension increases. In a case study on dermatology data with 34 features, both k-groups algorithms performed better than k-means.

(12 Nov 2017) 
Key: INRMM:14485739



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