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Title: Low-density cluster separators for large, high-dimensional, mixed and non-linearly separable data
Author: Yates, Katie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 6606
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2018
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The location of groups of similar observations (clusters) in data is a well-studied problem, and has many practical applications. There are a wide range of approaches to clustering, which rely on different definitions of similarity, and are appropriate for datasets with different characteristics. Despite a rich literature, there exist a number of open problems in clustering, and limitations to existing algorithms. This thesis develops methodology for clustering high-dimensional, mixed datasets with complex clustering structures, using low-density cluster separators that bi-partition datasets using cluster boundaries that pass through regions of minimal density, separating regions of high probability density, associated with clusters. The bi-partitions arising from a succession of minimum density cluster separators are combined using divisive hierarchical and partitional algorithms, to locate a complete clustering, while estimating the number of clusters. The proposed algorithms locate cluster separators using one-dimensional arbitrarily oriented subspaces, circumventing the challenges associated with clustering in high-dimensional spaces. This requires continuous observations; thus, to extend the applicability of the proposed algorithms to mixed datasets, methods for producing an appropriate continuous representation of datasets containing non-continuous features are investigated. The exact evaluation of the density intersected by a cluster boundary is restricted to linear separators. This limitation is lifted by a non-linear mapping of the original observations into a feature space, in which a linear separator permits the correct identification of non-linearly separable clusters in the original dataset. In large, high-dimensional datasets, searching for one-dimensional subspaces, which result in a minimum density separator is computationally expensive. Therefore, a computationally efficient approach to low-density cluster separation using approximately optimal projection directions is proposed, which searches over a collection of one-dimensional random projections for an appropriate subspace for cluster identification. The proposed approaches produce high-quality partitions, that are competitive with well-established and state-of-the-art algorithms.
Supervisor: Pavlidis, Nicos ; Sherlock, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral