A type of unsupervised learning algorithm that seeks to group data points (observations) in such a way that objects in the same group (called a cluster) are more similar (in some sense) to each other than to those in other groups (clusters).

Cluster analysis itself is not one specific algorithm, but it can be achieved by various algorithms that differ significantly in their understanding of what constitutes a cluster and how to efficiently find them. Popular notions of clusters include groups with small distances between cluster members, dense areas of the data space, intervals or particular statistical distributions.

The appropriate clustering algorithm and parameter settings (including parameters such as the distance function to use, a density threshold or the number of expected clusters) depend on the individual data set and intended use of the results. Cluster analysis as such is not an automatic task, but an iterative process of knowledge discovery or interactive multi-objective optimization that involves trial and failure.


Last Updated: April 07, 2019