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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2009

V - Clustering


Clustering is an unsupervised process through which objects are classified into groups called clusters. In categorization problems, as described in Chapter IV, we are provided with a collection of preclassified training examples, and the task of the system is to learn the descriptions of classes in order to be able to classify a new unlabeled object. In the case of clustering, the problem is to group the given unlabeled collection into meaningful clusters without any prior information. Any labels associated with objects are obtained solely from the data.

Clustering is useful in a wide range of data analysis fields, including data mining, document retrieval, image segmentation, and pattern classification. In many such problems, little prior information is available about the data, and the decision-maker must make as few assumptions about the data as possible. It is for those cases the clustering methodology is especially appropriate.

Clustering techniques are described in this chapter in the context of textual data analysis. Section V.1 discusses the various applications of clustering in text analysis domains. Sections V.2 and V.3 address the general clustering problem and present several clustering algorithms. Finally Section V.4 demonstrates how the clustering algorithms can be adapted to text analysis.


One application of clustering is the analysis and navigation of big text collections such as Web pages. The basic assumption, called the cluster hypothesis, states that relevant documents tend to be more similar to each other than to nonrelevant ones.

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