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Active Clustering of Biological Sequences

Konstantin Voevodski, Maria-Florina Balcan, Heiko Röglin, Shang-Hua Teng, Yu Xia; 13(7):203−225, 2012.


Given a point set S and an unknown metric d on S, we study the problem of efficiently partitioning S into k clusters while querying few distances between the points. In our model we assume that we have access to one versus all queries that given a point s ∈ S return the distances between s and all other points. We show that given a natural assumption about the structure of the instance, we can efficiently find an accurate clustering using only O(k) distance queries. Our algorithm uses an active selection strategy to choose a small set of points that we call landmarks, and considers only the distances between landmarks and other points to produce a clustering. We use our procedure to cluster proteins by sequence similarity. This setting nicely fits our model because we can use a fast sequence database search program to query a sequence against an entire data set. We conduct an empirical study that shows that even though we query a small fraction of the distances between the points, we produce clusterings that are close to a desired clustering given by manual classification.

© JMLR 2012. (edit, beta)