Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Committee Chair

Frigui, Hichem

Author's Keywords

Clustering; Multiple kernel learning; Data mining; Semi-supervised learning; Pattern recognition; Image database categorization


Cluster analysis; Data mining; Pattern perception


For real-world clustering tasks, the input data is typically not easily separable due to the highly complex data structure or when clusters vary in size, density and shape. Recently, kernel-based clustering has been proposed to perform clustering in a higher-dimensional feature space spanned by embedding maps and corresponding kernel functions. Although good results were obtained using the Gaussian kernel function, its performance depends on the selection of the scaling parameter among an extensive range of possibilities. This step is often heavily influenced by prior knowledge about the data and by the patterns we expect to discover. Unfortunately, it is often unclear which kernels are more suitable for a particular task. The problem is aggravated for many real-world clustering applications, in which the distributions of the different clusters in the feature space exhibit large variations. Thus, in the absence of a priori knowledge, a single kernel selected from a predefined group is sometimes insufficient to represent the data. One way to learn optimal scaling parameters is through an exhaustive search of one optimal scaling parameter for each cluster. However, this approach is not practical since it is computationally expensive, especially when the data includes a large number of clusters and when the dynamic range of possible values of the scaling parameters is large. Moreover, the evaluation of the resulting partition in order to select the optimal parameters is not an easy task. To overcome the above drawbacks, we introduce two novel fuzzy clustering techniques that use Multiple Kernel Learning to provide an elegant solution for parameter selection. The Fuzzy C-Means with Multiple Kernels algorithm (FCMK) simultaneously finds the optimal partition and the cluster-dependent kernel combination weights that reflect the intrinsic structure of the data. The Relational Fuzzy Clustering with Multiple Kernels (RFCMK) learns the kernel combination weights by optimizing the relational dissimilarities. Consequently, the learned kernel combination weights reflect the relative density, size, and position of each cluster with respect to the other clusters. We also extended FCMK and RFCMK to the semi-supervised paradigms. We show that the incorporation of prior knowledge in the unsupervised clustering task in the form of a small set of constraints on which instances should or should not reside in the same cluster, guides the unsupervised approaches to a better partitioning of the data and avoid local minima, especially for high dimensional real world data. All of the proposed algorithms are optimized iteratively by dynamically updating the partition and the kernel combination weights in each iteration. This makes these algorithms simple and fast. Moreover, our algorithms are formulated to work on both vector and relational data. This makes them applicable to data where objects cannot be represented by vectors or when clusters of similar objects cannot be represented efficiently by a single prototype. We also introduced two relational fuzzy clustering with multiple kernel algorithms for large data to deal with the scalability issue of RFCMK. The random sample and extend RFCMK (rseRFCMK) computes cluster prototypes from a smaller sample of randomly selected objects, and then extends the partition to the remainder of the data. The single pass RFCMK (spRFCMK) sequentially loads manageable sized chunks, clustering the chunks in a single pass, and then combining the results from each chunk. Our extensive experiments show that RFCMK and SS-RFCMK outperform existing algorithms. In particular, we show that when data include clusters with various intrinsic structures and densities, learning kernel weights that vary over clusters is crucial in obtaining a good partition.