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Fast and exact out-of-core and distributed k-means clustering

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Clustering has been one of the most widely studied topics in data mining and k-means clustering has been one of the popular clustering algorithms. K-means requires several passes on the entire dataset, which can make it very expensive for large disk-resident datasets. In view of this, a lot of work has been done on various approximate versions of k-means, which require only one or a small number of passes on the entire dataset.

In this paper, we present a new algorithm, called fast and exact k-means clustering (FEKM), which typically requires only one or a small number of passes on the entire dataset and provably produces the same cluster centres as reported by the original k-means algorithm. The algorithm uses sampling to create initial cluster centres and then takes one or more passes over the entire dataset to adjust these cluster centres. We provide theoretical analysis to show that the cluster centres thus reported are the same as the ones computed by the original k-means algorithm. Experimental results from a number of real and synthetic datasets show speedup between a factor of 2 and 4.5, as compared with k-means.

This paper also describes and evaluates a distributed version of FEKM, which we refer to as DFEKM. This algorithm is suitable for analysing data that is distributed across loosely coupled machines. Unlike the previous work in this area, DFEKM provably produces the same results as the original k-means algorithm. Our experimental results show that DFEKM is clearly better than two other possible options for exact clustering on distributed data, which are down loading all data and running sequential k-means or running parallel k-means on a loosely coupled configuration. Moreover, even in a tightly coupled environment, DFEKM can outperform parallel k-means if there is a significant load imbalance.

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Correspondence to Ruoming Jin.

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Ruoming Jin is currently an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Kent State University. He received a BE and a ME degree in computer engineering from Beihang University (BUAA), China in 1996 and 1999, respectively. He earned his MS degree in computer science from University of Delaware in 2001, and his Ph.D. degree in computer science from the Ohio State University in 2005. His research interests include data mining, databases, processing of streaming data, bioinformatics, and high performance computing. He has published more than 30 papers in these areas. He is a member of ACM and SIGKDD.

Anjan Goswami studied robotics at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur. While working with IBM, he was interested in studying computer science. He then obtained a masters degree from the University of South Florida, where he worked on computer vision problems. He then transferred to the PhD program in computer science at OSU, where he did a Masters thesis on efficient clustering algorithms for massive, distributed and streaming data. On successful completion of this, he decided to join a web-service-provider company to do research in designing and developing high-performance search solutions for very large structured data. Anjan' favourite recreations are studying and predicting technology trends, nature photography, hiking, literature and soccer.

Gagan Agrawal is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Ohio State University. He received his B.Tech degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1991, and M.S. and Ph.D degrees from University of Maryland, College Park, in 1994 and 1996, respectively. His research interests include parallel and distributed computing, compilers, data mining, grid computing, and data integration. He has published more than 110 refereed papers in these areas. He is a member of ACM and IEEE Computer Society. He received a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1998.

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Jin, R., Goswami, A. & Agrawal, G. Fast and exact out-of-core and distributed k-means clustering. Knowl Inf Syst 10, 17–40 (2006).

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