Divisive clustering

Top-down clustering is conceptually more complex than bottom-up clustering since we need a second, flat clustering algorithm as a ``subroutine''. It has the advantage of being more efficient if we do not generate a complete hierarchy all the way down to individual document leaves. For a fixed number of top levels, using an efficient flat algorithm like -means, top-down algorithms are linear in the number of documents and clusters. So they run much faster than HAC algorithms, which are at least quadratic.

There is evidence that divisive algorithms produce more accurate hierarchies than bottom-up algorithms in some circumstances. See the references on bisecting -means in Section 17.9 . Bottom-up methods make clustering decisions based on local patterns without initially taking into account the global distribution. These early decisions cannot be undone. Top-down clustering benefits from complete information about the global distribution when making top-level partitioning decisions.

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2009-04-07