Penalized model-based clustering with cluster-specific diagonal covariance matrices and grouped variables

Benhuai Xie, Wei Pan, Xiaotong T Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Clustering analysis is one of the most widely used statistical tools in many emerging areas such as microarray data analysis. For microarray and other high-dimensional data, the presence of many noise variables may mask underlying clustering structures. Hence removing noise variables via variable selection is necessary. For simultaneous variable selection and parameter estimation, existing penalized likelihood approaches in model-based clustering analysis all assume a common diagonal covariance matrix across clusters, which however may not hold in practice. To analyze high-dimensional data, particularly those with relatively low sample sizes, this article introduces a novel approach that shrinks the variances together with means, in a more general situation with cluster-specific (diagonal) covariance matrices. Furthermore, selection of grouped variables via inclusion or exclusion of a group of variables altogether is permitted by a specific form of penalty, which facilitates incorporating subject-matter knowledge, such as gene functions in clustering microarray samples for disease subtype discovery.For implementation, EM algorithms are derived for parameter estimation, in which the M-steps clearly demonstrate the effects of shrinkage and thre sholding. Numerical examples, including an application to acute leukemia sub type discovery with microarray gene expression data, are provided to demonstrate the utility and advantage of the proposed method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-212
Number of pages45
JournalElectronic Journal of Statistics
StatePublished - 2008


  • BIC
  • EM algorithm
  • High-dimension but low-sample size
  • L penalization
  • Microarray gene expression
  • Mixture model
  • Penalized likelihood


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