Fuzzy Clustering with Similarity Queries

06/04/2021
by   Wasim Huleihel, et al.
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The fuzzy or soft k-means objective is a popular generalization of the well-known k-means problem, extending the clustering capability of the k-means to datasets that are uncertain, vague, and otherwise hard to cluster. In this paper, we propose a semi-supervised active clustering framework, where the learner is allowed to interact with an oracle (domain expert), asking for the similarity between a certain set of chosen items. We study the query and computational complexities of clustering in this framework. We prove that having a few of such similarity queries enables one to get a polynomial-time approximation algorithm to an otherwise conjecturally NP-hard problem. In particular, we provide probabilistic algorithms for fuzzy clustering in this setting that asks O(𝗉𝗈𝗅𝗒(k)log n) similarity queries and run with polynomial-time-complexity, where n is the number of items. The fuzzy k-means objective is nonconvex, with k-means as a special case, and is equivalent to some other generic nonconvex problem such as non-negative matrix factorization. The ubiquitous Lloyd-type algorithms (or, expectation-maximization algorithm) can get stuck at a local minima. Our results show that by making few similarity queries, the problem becomes easier to solve. Finally, we test our algorithms over real-world datasets, showing their effectiveness in real-world applications.

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