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Order-Constrained Solutions in K-Means Clustering: Even Better Than Being Globally Optimal

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This paper proposes an order-constrained K-means cluster analysis strategy, and implements that strategy through an auxiliary quadratic assignment optimization heuristic that identifies an initial object order. A subsequent dynamic programming recursion is applied to optimally subdivide the object set subject to the order constraint. We show that although the usual K-means sum-of-squared-error criterion is not guaranteed to be minimal, a true underlying cluster structure may be more accurately recovered. Also, substantive interpretability seems generally improved when constrained solutions are considered. We illustrate the procedure with several data sets from the literature.

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Correspondence to Douglas Steinley.

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Steinley, D., Hubert, L. Order-Constrained Solutions in K-Means Clustering: Even Better Than Being Globally Optimal. Psychometrika 73, 647 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11336-008-9058-z

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  • K-means cluster analysis
  • dynamic programming
  • quadratic assignment
  • constrained optimization
  • multicriterion optimization