Distributed Bayesian clustering using finite mixture of mixtures

by   Hanyu Song, et al.

In many modern applications, there is interest in analyzing enormous data sets that cannot be easily moved across computers or loaded into memory on a single computer. In such settings, it is very common to be interested in clustering. Existing distributed clustering algorithms are mostly distance or density based without a likelihood specification, precluding the possibility of formal statistical inference. Model-based clustering allows statistical inference, yet research on distributed inference has emphasized nonparametric Bayesian mixture models over finite mixture models. To fill this gap, we introduce a nearly embarrassingly parallel algorithm for clustering under a Bayesian overfitted finite mixture of Gaussian mixtures, which we term distributed Bayesian clustering (DIB-C). DIB-C can flexibly accommodate data sets with various shapes (e.g. skewed or multi-modal). With data randomly partitioned and distributed, we first run Markov chain Monte Carlo in an embarrassingly parallel manner to obtain local clustering draws and then refine across workers for a final clustering estimate based on any loss function on the space of partitions. DIB-C can also estimate cluster densities, quickly classify new subjects and provide a posterior predictive distribution. Both simulation studies and real data applications show superior performance of DIB-C in terms of robustness and computational efficiency.


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