University of Washington - Department of Biostatistics
We consider the problem of clustering observations using a potentially large set of features. One might expect that the true underlying clusters present in the data differ only with respect to a small fraction of the features, and will be missed if one clusters the observations using the full set of features. We propose a novel framework for sparse clustering, in which one clusters the observations using an adaptively chosen subset of the features. The method uses a lasso-type penalty to select the features. We use this framework to develop simple methods for sparse K-means and sparse hierarchical clustering. A single criterion governs both the selection of the features and the resulting clusters. These approaches are demonstrated on simulated data and on genomic data sets.