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K-means clustering

The most common partitioning method is the K-means cluster analysis.


Conceptually, the K-means algorithm:

1. Selects K centroids (K rows chosen at random)

2. Assigns each data point to its closest centroid

3. Recalculates the centroids as the average of all data points in a cluster (i.e., the
centroids are p-length mean vectors, where p is the number of variables)

4. Assigns data points to their closest centroids

5. Continues steps 3 and 4 until the observations are not reassigned or the
maximum number of iterations (R uses 10 as a default) is reached.

Implementation details for this approach can vary.

R uses an efficient algorithm by Hartigan and Wong (1979) that partitions the
observations into k groups such that the sum of squares of the observations to their
assigned cluster centers is a minimum. This means that in steps 2 and 4, each
observation is assigned to the cluster with the smallest value of:

Where k is the cluster,xij is the value of the jth variable for the ith observation, and xkj-
bar is the mean of the jth variable for the kth cluster.

K-means clustering can handle larger datasets than hierarchical cluster approaches.
Additionally, observations are not permanently committed to a cluster. They are
moved when doing so improves the overall solution. However, the use of means
implies that all variables must be continuous and the approach can be severely
affected by outliers. They also perform poorly in the presence of non-convex (e.g., U-
shaped) clusters.

The format of the K-means function in R is kmeans(x, centers) where x is a numeric


dataset (matrix or data frame) and centers is the number of clusters to extract. The
function returns the cluster memberships, centroids, sums of squares (within,
between, total), and cluster sizes.
Since K-means cluster analysis starts with k randomly chosen centroids, a different
solution can be obtained each time the function is invoked. Use
the set.seed() function to guarantee that the results are reproducible. Additionally,
this clustering approach can be sensitive to the initial selection of centroids.
The kmeans() function has an nstart option that attempts multiple initial
configurations and reports on the best one. For example, adding nstart=25 will
generate 25 initial configurations. This approach is often recommended.

Unlike hierarchical clustering, K-means clustering requires that the number of


clusters to extract be specified in advance. Again, the NbClust package can be used as
a guide. Additionally, a plot of the total within-groups sums of squares against the
number of clusters in a K-means solution can be helpful. A bend in the graph can
suggest the appropriate number of clusters. The graph can be produced by the
following function.

wssplot <- function(data, nc=15, seed=1234){


wss <- (nrow(data)-1)*sum(apply(data,2,var))
for (i in 2:nc){
set.seed(seed)
wss[i] <- sum(kmeans(data, centers=i)$withinss)}
plot(1:nc, wss, type="b", xlab="Number of Clusters",
ylab="Within groups sum of squares")}
The data parameter is the numeric dataset to be analyzed, nc is the maximum
number of clusters to consider, and seed is a random number seed.

Here, a dataset containing 13 chemical measurements on 178 Italian wine samples is


analyzed. The data originally come from the UCI Machine Learning Repository
(http://www.ics.uci.edu/~mlearn/MLRepository.html) but we will access it via
the rattle package. A K-means cluster analysis of the data is provided in listing 1.

> data(wine, package="rattle")


> head(wine)

Type Alcohol Malic Ash Alcalinity Magnesium Phenols Flavanoids


1 1 14.23 1.71 2.43 15.6 127 2.80 3.06
2 1 13.20 1.78 2.14 11.2 100 2.65 2.76
3 1 13.16 2.36 2.67 18.6 101 2.80 3.24
4 1 14.37 1.95 2.50 16.8 113 3.85 3.49
5 1 13.24 2.59 2.87 21.0 118 2.80 2.69
6 1 14.20 1.76 2.45 15.2 112 3.27 3.39

> df <- scale(wine[-1]) #1

Nonflavanoids Proanthocyanins Color Hue Dilution Proline


1 0.28 2.29 5.64 1.04 3.92 1065
2 0.26 1.28 4.38 1.05 3.40 1050
3 0.30 2.81 5.68 1.03 3.17 1185
4 0.24 2.18 7.80 0.86 3.45 1480
5 0.39 1.82 4.32 1.04 2.93 735
6 0.34 1.97 6.75 1.05 2.85 1450

> wssplot(df) #2
> library(NbClust)
> set.seed(1234)
> nc <- NbClust(df, min.nc=2, max.nc=15, method="kmeans")
> table(nc$Best.n[1,])

0 2 3 8 13 14 15
2 3 14 1 2 1 1

> barplot(table(nc$Best.n[1,]),
xlab="Numer of Clusters", ylab="Number of Criteria",
main="Number of Clusters Chosen by 26 Criteria")

> set.seed(1234)
> fit.km <- kmeans(df, 3, nstart=25) #3
> fit.km$size

[1] 62 65 51

> fit.km$centers

Alcohol Malic Ash Alcalinity Magnesium Phenols Flavanoids Nonflavanoids


1 0.83 -0.30 0.36 -0.61 0.576 0.883 0.975 -0.561
2 -0.92 -0.39 -0.49 0.17 -0.490 -0.076 0.021 -0.033
3 0.16 0.87 0.19 0.52 -0.075 -0.977 -1.212 0.724
Proanthocyanins Color Hue Dilution Proline
1 0.579 0.17 0.47 0.78 1.12
2 0.058 -0.90 0.46 0.27 -0.75
3 -0.778 0.94 -1.16 -1.29 -0.41

> aggregate(wine[-1], by=list(cluster=fit.km$cluster), mean)

cluster Alcohol Malic Ash Alcalinity Magnesium Phenols Flavanoids


1 1 14 1.8 2.4 17 106 2.8 3.0
2 2 12 1.6 2.2 20 88 2.2 2.0
3 3 13 3.3 2.4 21 97 1.6 0.7
Nonflavanoids Proanthocyanins Color Hue Dilution Proline
1 0.29 1.9 5.4 1.07 3.2 1072
2 0.35 1.6 2.9 1.04 2.8 495
3 0.47 1.1 7.3 0.67 1.7 620
#1 standardize data
#2 determine number of clusters
#3 K-means cluster analysis
Since the variables vary in range, they are standardized prior to clustering (#1). Next,
the number of clusters is determined using the wwsplot() and NbClust()functions
(#2). Figure 1 indicates that there is a distinct drop in within groups sum of squares
when moving from 1 to 3 clusters. After three clusters, this decrease drops off,
suggesting that a 3-cluster solution may be a good fit to the data. In figure 2, 14 of 24
criteria provided by the NbClust package suggest a 3-cluster solution. Note that not
all 30 criteria can be calculated for every dataset.

A final cluster solution is obtained with kmeans() function and the cluster centroids
are printed (#3). Since the centroids provided by the function are based on
standardized data, the aggregate() function is used along with the cluster
memberships to determine variable means for each cluster in the original metric.