Hierarchical Clustering – Fun and Easy Machine Learning

Hierarchical Clustering – Fun and Easy Machine Learning with Examples

Hierarchical Clustering
Looking at the formal definition of Hierarchical clustering, as the name suggests is an algorithm that builds hierarchy of clusters. This algorithm starts with all the data points assigned to a cluster of their own. Then two nearest clusters are merged into the same cluster. In the end, this algorithm terminates when there is only a single cluster left.
The results of hierarchical clustering can be shown using Dendogram as we seen before which can be thought of as binary tree

Difference between K Means and Hierarchical clustering
Hierarchical clustering can’t handle big data well but K Means clustering can. This is because the time complexity of K Means is linear i.e. O(n) while that of hierarchical clustering is quadratic i.e. O(n2).
In K Means clustering, since we start with random choice of clusters, the results produced by running the algorithm multiple times might differ. While results are reproducible in Hierarchical clustering.
K Means is found to work well when the shape of the clusters is hyper spherical (like circle in 2D, sphere in 3D).
K Means clustering requires prior knowledge of K i.e. no. of clusters you want to divide your data into. However with HCA , you can stop at whatever number of clusters you find appropriate in hierarchical clustering by interpreting the Dendogram.

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