Istituto di Informatica e Telematica     
Geraci F., Pellegrini M., Pisati P. A Scalable Algorithm for Metric High-Quality Clustering in Information Retrieval Tasks. Technical report, 2005.
We consider the problem of finding efficiently a high quality k-clustering of n points in a (possibly discrete) metric space. Many methods are known when the point are vectors in a real vector space, and the distance function is a standard geometric distance such as L1, L2 (Euclidean) or L2 2 (squared Euclidean distance). In such cases efficiency is often sought via sophisticated multidimensional search structures for speeding up nearest neighbor queries (e.g. variants of kd-trees). Such techniques usually work well in spaces of moderately high dimension say up to 6 or 8). Our target is a scenario in which either the metric space cannot be mapped into a vector space, or, if this mapping is possible, the dimension of such a space is so high as to rule out the use of the above mentioned techniques. This setting is rather typical in Information Retrieval applications. We augment the well known furthest-point-first algorithm for kcenter clustering in metric spaces with a filtering step based on the triangular inequality and we compare this algorithm with some recent fast variants of the classical k-means iterative algorithm augmented with an analogous filtering schemes. We extensively tested the two solutions on synthetic geometric data and real data from Information Retrieval applications. The main conclusion we draw is that our modified furthest-point-first method attains solutions of better or comparable quality within a fraction of the time used by the fast k-means algorithm. Thus our algorithm is valuable when either real time constraints or the large amount of data highlight the poor scalability of traditional clustering methods.
Subject Information Retrieval
Computational Geometry
H.3.3 [Information Search and Retrieval]: Clustering

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