A Unified Framework for Model-based Clustering

Shi Zhong, Joydeep Ghosh; 4(Nov):1001-1037, 2003.


Model-based clustering techniques have been widely used and have shown promising results in many applications involving complex data. This paper presents a unified framework for probabilistic model-based clustering based on a bipartite graph view of data and models that highlights the commonalities and differences among existing model-based clustering algorithms. In this view, clusters are represented as probabilistic models in a model space that is conceptually separate from the data space. For partitional clustering, the view is conceptually similar to the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm. For hierarchical clustering, the graph-based view helps to visualize critical/important distinctions between similarity-based approaches and model-based approaches. The framework also suggests several useful variations of existing clustering algorithms. Two new variations---balanced model-based clustering and hybrid model-based clustering---are discussed and empirically evaluated on a variety of data types.