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Challenges in model‐based clustering

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Abstract Model‐based clustering is an increasingly popular area of cluster analysis that relies on probabilistic description of data by means of finite mixture models. Mixture distributions prove to be a powerful technique for modeling heterogeneity in data. In model‐based clustering, each data group is seen as a sample from one or several mixture components. Despite attractive interpretation, model‐based clustering poses many challenges. This paper discusses some of the most important problems a researcher might encounter while applying the model‐based cluster analysis. WIREs Comput Stat 2013, 5:135–148. doi: 10.1002/wics.1248 This article is categorized under: Statistical Learning and Exploratory Methods of the Data Sciences > Clustering and Classification Statistical and Graphical Methods of Data Analysis > Density Estimation

Performance of the EM algorithm based on different initialization procedures. represents the log‐likelihood value reached by the EM algorithm. (a) ΣEM, = −10,643, (b) emEM, = −10,665, (c) mclust, = −10,667, (d) k‐means & EM, = −10,837.

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Four solutions obtained by Rnd‐EM: (a) and (b) are nonspurious, (c) and (d) are spurious. (a) = 25.69, (b) = 26.61, (c) = 27.14, (d) = 27.58.

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Model‐based clustering with and without influential observations denoted as 1 and 2. Symbols represent the true assignment of data points simulated from a four‐component mixture model; colors represent obtained classification.

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Bivariate datasets with three distinct clusters: (a) one variable is informative and the other is irrelevant for clustering, (b) both variables carry clustering information.

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Statistical Learning and Exploratory Methods of the Data Sciences > Clustering and Classification
Statistical and Graphical Methods of Data Analysis > Density Estimation

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