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Unrooted trees for numerical taxonomy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 July 2016

Annette J. Dobson*
James Cook University of North Queensland


It is common to represent taxonomic hierarchies of related objects (such as similar plant or animal species or languages of the same family) by rooted trees with labelled terminal vertices which represent the objects. The multivariate data comparing numerous characteristics of the objects is first reduced to indices of similarity (or more often of dissimilarity) between each pair of objects. These are used to classify the objects into groups which are then depicted on a tree.

This paper shows that an unrooted tree with labelled terminal vertices may provide a better representation of the relationships between the objects because the similarity indices are required to conform to fewer restrictions. Also for a given number of terminal vertices, there are fewer unrooted than rooted trees so that studies using probability distributions of trees or seeking the most suitable tree to represent the data are more practicable.

Research Papers
Copyright © Applied Probability Trust 1974 

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