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## Internal (model-based, unsupervised) Quality

Internal quality measures, such as the sum of squared errors, have traditionally been used extensively. Given an internal quality measure, clustering can be posed as an optimization problem that is typically solved via greedy search. For example, -means has been shown to greedily optimize the sum of squared errors.

Error (mean/sum-of-squared error, scatter matrices).
The most popular cost function is the scatter of the points in each cluster. Cost is measured as the mean square error of data points compared to their respective cluster centroid. The well known -means algorithm has been shown to heuristically minimize the squared error objective. Let be the number of objects in cluster according to . Then, the cluster centroids are

 (4.9)

The sum of squared errors is

 (4.10)

Note that the formulation can be extended to other similarities by using . Since, we are interested in a quality measure ranging from 0 to 1, where 1 indicates a perfect clustering, we define quality as

 (4.11)

This objective can also be viewed from a probability density estimation perspective using EM [DLR77]. Assuming the data is generated by a mixture of multi-variate Gaussians with identical, diagonal covariance matrices, the objective is equivalent to the maximizing the likelihood of observing the data by adjusting the centers and minimizing weights of the Gaussian mixture.
Edge cut.
When clustering is posed as a graph partitioning problem, the objective is to minimize edge cut. Formulated as a [0,1]-quality maximization problem, the objective is the ratio of remaining edge weights to total pre-cut edge weights:

 (4.12)

Note that this quality measure can be trivially maximized when there are no restrictions on the sizes of clusters. In other words, edge cut quality evaluation is only fair when the compared clusterings are well-balanced. Let us define the balance of a clustering as

 (4.13)

A balance of 1 indicates that all clusters have the same size. In certain applications, balanced clusters are desirable because each cluster represents an equally important share of the data. Balancing has application driven advantages e.g., for distribution, navigation, summarization of the clustered objects. In chapter 3, retail customer clusters are balanced so they represent an equal share of revenue. Balanced clustering for browsing text documents have also been proposed [BG02]. However, some natural classes may not be of equal size, so relaxed balancing may become necessary. A middle ground between no constraints on balancing (e.g., -means) and tight balancing (e.g., graph partitioning) can be achieved by over-clustering using a balanced algorithm and then merging clusters subsequently [KHK99].

Category Utility [GC85,Fis87a].
The category utility function measures quality as the increase in predictability of attributes given a clustering. Category utility is defined as the increase in the expected number of attribute values that can be correctly guessed given a partitioning, over the expected number of correct guesses with no such knowledge. A weighted average over categories allows comparison of different sized partitions. For binary features (i.e., attributes) the probability of the -th attribute to be 1 is the mean of the -th row of the data matrix :

 (4.14)

The conditional probability of the -th attribute to be 1 given that the data point is in cluster is

 (4.15)

Hence, category utility can be written as

 (4.16)

Note that our definition divides the standard category by so that never exceeds 1. Recently, it has been shown that category utility is related to squared error criterion for a particular standard encoding [Mir01]. Category utility is defined to maximize predictability of attributes for a clustering. This limits the scope of this quality measure to low-dimensional clustering problems (preferably with each dimension being a categorical variable with small cardinality). In high-dimensional problems, such as text clustering, the objective is not to be able to predict the appearance of any possible word in a document from a particular cluster. In fact, there might be more unique words / terms / phrases than documents in a small data-set. In preliminary experiments, category utility did not succeed in differentiating among the compared approaches (including random partitioning).
Using internal quality measures, fair comparisons can only be made amongst clusterings with the same choices of vector representation and similarity / distance measure. E.g., using edge-cut in cosine-based similarity would not be meaningful for an evaluation of Euclidean -means. So, in many applications a consensus on the internal quality measure for clustering is not found. However, in situations where the pages are categorized (labelled) by an external source, there is a plausible way out!

Next: External (model-free, semi-supervised) Quality Up: Evaluation Methodology Previous: Evaluation Methodology   Contents
Alexander Strehl 2002-05-03