Clustering with Fast, Automated and Reproducible assessment applied to longitudinal neural tracking

19 Mar 2020  ·  Hanlin Zhu, Xue Li, Liuyang Sun, Fei He, Zhengtuo Zhao, Lan Luan, Ngoc Mai Tran, Chong Xie ·

Across many areas, from neural tracking to database entity resolution, manual assessment of clusters by human experts presents a bottleneck in rapid development of scalable and specialized clustering methods. To solve this problem we develop C-FAR, a novel method for Fast, Automated and Reproducible assessment of multiple hierarchical clustering algorithms simultaneously. Our algorithm takes any number of hierarchical clustering trees as input, then strategically queries pairs for human feedback, and outputs an optimal clustering among those nominated by these trees. While it is applicable to large dataset in any domain that utilizes pairwise comparisons for assessment, our flagship application is the cluster aggregation step in spike-sorting, the task of assigning waveforms (spikes) in recordings to neurons. On simulated data of 96 neurons under adverse conditions, including drifting and 25\% blackout, our algorithm produces near-perfect tracking relative to the ground truth. Our runtime scales linearly in the number of input trees, making it a competitive computational tool. These results indicate that C-FAR is highly suitable as a model selection and assessment tool in clustering tasks.

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