Sparse K-Means with $\ell_{\infty}/\ell_0$ Penalty for High-Dimensional Data Clustering

Xiangyu Chang, Yu Wang, Rongjian Li, Zongben Xu

Sparse clustering, which aims to find a proper partition of an extremely high-dimensional data set with redundant noise features, has been attracted more and more interests in recent years. The existing studies commonly solve the problem in a framework of maximizing the weighted feature contributions subject to a $\ell_2/\ell_1$ penalty. Nevertheless, this framework has two serious drawbacks: One is that the solution of the framework unavoidably involves a considerable portion of redundant noise features in many situations, and the other is that the framework neither offers intuitive explanations on why this framework can select relevant features nor leads to any theoretical guarantee for feature selection consistency. In this article, we attempt to overcome those drawbacks through developing a new sparse clustering framework which uses a $\ell_{\infty}/\ell_0$ penalty. First, we introduce new concepts on optimal partitions and noise features for the high-dimensional data clustering problems, based on which the previously known framework can be intuitively explained in principle. Then, we apply the suggested $\ell_{\infty}/\ell_0$ framework to formulate a new sparse k-means model with the $\ell_{\infty}/\ell_0$ penalty ($\ell_0$-k-means for short). We propose an efficient iterative algorithm for solving the $\ell_0$-k-means. To deeply understand the behavior of $\ell_0$-k-means, we prove that the solution yielded by the $\ell_0$-k-means algorithm has feature selection consistency whenever the data matrix is generated from a high-dimensional Gaussian mixture model. Finally, we provide experiments with both synthetic data and the Allen Developing Mouse Brain Atlas data to support that the proposed $\ell_0$-k-means exhibits better noise feature detection capacity over the previously known sparse k-means with the $\ell_2/\ell_1$ penalty ($\ell_1$-k-means for short).

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