Contraction Clustering (RASTER)

A Big Data Algorithm for Density-Based Clustering in Constant Memory and Linear Time
  • Gregor UlmEmail author
  • Emil Gustavsson
  • Mats Jirstrand
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10710)


Clustering is an essential data mining tool for analyzing and grouping similar objects. In big data applications, however, many clustering methods are infeasible due to their memory requirements or runtime complexity. Open image in new window (RASTER) is a linear-time algorithm for identifying density-based clusters. Its coefficient is negligible as it depends neither on input size nor the number of clusters. Its memory requirements are constant. Consequently, RASTER is suitable for big data applications where the size of the data may be huge. It consists of two steps: (1) a contraction step which projects objects onto tiles and (2) an agglomeration step which groups tiles into clusters. Our algorithm is extremely fast. In single-threaded execution on a contemporary workstation, it clusters ten million points in less than 20 s—when using a slow interpreted programming language like Python. Furthermore, RASTER is easily parallelizable.


Algorithms Big data Machine learning Unsupervised learning Clustering 



This research was supported by the project Fleet telematics big data analytics for vehicle usage modeling and analysis (FUMA) in the funding program FFI: Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation (DNR 2016-02207), which is administered by VINNOVA, the Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fraunhofer-Chalmers Research Centre for Industrial MathematicsGothenburgSweden

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