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Conference Paper

Clustering: Science or Art?


von Luxburg,  U
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Guyon, I., von Luxburg, U., & Williamson, R. (2009). Clustering: Science or Art? In NIPS 2009 Workshop on Clustering: Science or Art? Towards Principled Approaches (pp. 1-11).

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-C1DA-6
This paper deals with the question whether the quality of different clustering algorithms can be compared by a general, scientifically sound procedure which is independent of particular clustering algorithms. In our opinion, the major obstacle is the difficulty to evaluate a clustering algorithm without taking into account the context: why does the user cluster his data in the first place, and what does he want to do with the clustering afterwards? We suggest that clustering should not be treated as an application-independent mathematical problem, but should always be studied in the context of its end-use. Different techniques to evaluate clustering algorithms have to be developed for different uses of clustering. To simplify this procedure it will be useful to build a “taxonomy of clustering problems” to identify clustering applications which can be treated in a unified way.