Clustervision: Visual Supervision of Unsupervised Clustering

Picture of Bum Chul Kwon
Bum Chul Kwon
Picture of Ben Eysenbach
Ben Eysenbach
Picture of Janu Verma
Janu Verma
Picture of Kenney Ng
Kenney Ng
Picture of Christopher deFilippi
Christopher deFilippi
Picture of Walter Stewart
Walter Stewart
Published at VAST | Phoenix, AZ 2017
Teaser image


Clustering, the process of grouping together similar items into distinct partitions, is a common type of unsupervised machine learning that can be useful for summarizing and aggregating complex multi-dimensional data. However, data can be clustered in many ways, and there exist a large body of algorithms designed to reveal different patterns. While having access to a wide variety of algorithms is helpful, in practice, it is quite difficult for data scientists to choose and parameterize algorithms to get the clustering results relevant for their dataset and analytical tasks. To alleviate this problem, we built Clustervision, a visual analytics tool that helps ensure data scientists find the right clustering among the large amount of techniques and parameters available. Our system clusters data using a variety of clustering techniques and parameters and then ranks clustering results utilizing five quality metrics. In addition, users can guide the system to produce more relevant results by providing task-relevant constraints on the data. Our visual user interface allows users to find high quality clustering results, explore the clusters using several coordinated visualization techniques, and select the cluster result that best suits their task. We demonstrate this novel approach using a case study with a team of researchers in the medical domain and showcase that our system empowers users to choose an effective representation of their complex data.