Hierarchical clustering algorithms for document datasets

Ying Zhao, George Karypis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

429 Scopus citations


Fast and high-quality document clustering algorithms play an important role in providing intuitive navigation and browsing mechanisms by organizing large amounts of information into a small number of meaningful clusters. In particular, clustering algorithms that build meaningful hierarchies out of large document collections are ideal tools for their interactive visualization and exploration as they provide data-views that are consistent, predictable, and at different levels of granularity. This paper focuses on document clustering algorithms that build such hierarchical solutions and (i) presents a comprehensive study of partitional and agglomerative algorithms that use different criterion functions and merging schemes, and (ii) presents a new class of clustering algorithms called constrained agglomerative algorithms, which combine features from both partitional and agglomerative approaches that allows them to reduce the early-stage errors made by agglomerative methods and hence improve the quality of clustering solutions. The experimental evaluation shows that, contrary to the common belief, partitional algorithms always lead to better solutions than agglomerative algorithms; making them ideal for clustering large document collections due to not only their relatively low computational requirements, but also higher clustering quality. Furthermore, the constrained agglomerative methods consistently lead to better solutions than agglomerative methods alone and for many cases they outperform partitional methods, as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-168
Number of pages28
JournalData Mining and Knowledge Discovery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by NSF CCR-9972519, EIA-9986042, ACI-9982274, ACI-0133464, and ACI-0312828; the Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota; and by the Army High Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC) under the auspices of the Department of the Army, Army Research Laboratory (ARL) under Cooperative Agreement number DAAD19-01-2-0014. The content of which does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the government, and no official endorsement should be inferred. Access to research and computing facilities was provided by the Digital Technology Center and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. Related papers are available via WWW at URL: http://www.cs.umn.edu/˜karypis


  • Constrained agglomerative clustering
  • Criterion function
  • Data mining
  • Hierarchical clustering


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