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A family of graph-theoretical algorithms based on the minimal spanning tree are capable of detecting several kinds of cluster structure in arbitrary point sets; description of the detected clusters is possible in some cases by extensions of the method. Development of these clustering algorithms was based on examples from two-dimensional space because we wanted to copy the human perception of gestalts or point groupings. On the other hand, all the methods considered apply to higher dimensional spaces and even to general metric spaces. Advantages of these methods include determinacy, easy interpretation of the resulting clusters, conformity to gestalt principles of perceptual organization, and invariance of results under monotone transformations of interpoint distance. Brief discussion is made of the application of cluster detection to taxonomy and the selection of good feature spaces for pattern recognition. Detailed analyses of several planar cluster detection problems are illustrated by text and figures. The well-known Fisher iris data, in four-dimensional space, have been analyzed by these methods also. PL/1 programs to implement the minimal spanning tree methods have been fully debugged.
Clustering, data structure analysis, feature space evaluation, gestalt psychology, graph theory, minimal spanning trees, nearest neighbor methods, numerical taxonomy, pattern recognition.
C.T. Zahn, "Graph-Theoretical Methods for Detecting and Describing Gestalt Clusters", IEEE Transactions on Computers, vol. 20, no. , pp. 68-86, January 1971, doi:10.1109/T-C.1971.223083
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