ThetA -- fast and robust clustering via a distance parameter

Clustering is a fundamental problem in machine learning where distance-based approaches have dominated the field for many decades. This set of problems is often tackled by partitioning the data into K clusters where the number of clusters is chosen apriori. While significant progress has been made on these lines over the years, it is well established that as the number of clusters or dimensions increase, current approaches dwell in local minima resulting in suboptimal solutions. In this work, we propose a new set of distance threshold methods called Theta-based Algorithms (ThetA). Via experimental comparisons and complexity analyses we show that our proposed approach outperforms existing approaches in: a) clustering accuracy and b) time complexity. Additionally, we show that for a large class of problems, learning the optimal threshold is straightforward in comparison to learning K. Moreover, we show how ThetA can infer the sparsity of datasets in higher dimensions.

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