Genie [16] is an agglomerative hierarchical clustering algorithm that links clusters minding that the Gini index (a popular measure of inequality used in, amongst others, economics) of the cluster sizes should not go too far beyond a given threshold. If this happens, instead of merging two closest clusters, a smallest cluster is joined with its nearest neighbour. In the following sections we’ll show that Genie frequently outperforms many other methods in terms of clustering quality and speed.

Here are a few examples of basic interactions with the Python version of the genieclust [11] package, which can be installed from PyPI, e.g., via a call to pip3 install genieclust from the command line.

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import genieclust

Breaking the Ice#

Let’s load an example benchmark set, jain [22], which comes with the true corresponding partition (as assigned by experts).

# see
dataset = "jain"
# Load an example 2D dataset:
X = np.loadtxt("" % dataset, ndmin=2)

# Load the corresponding reference labels. The original labels are in {1,2,..,k}.
# We'll make them more Python-ish by subtracting 1.
labels_true = np.loadtxt("%s.labels0.gz" % dataset, dtype=np.intp)-1

# The number of unique labels gives the true cluster count:
n_clusters = len(np.unique(labels_true))

A scatter plot of the dataset together with the reference labels:

genieclust.plots.plot_scatter(X, labels=labels_true)
plt.title("%s (n=%d, true n_clusters=%d)" % (dataset, X.shape[0], n_clusters))

Figure 1 Reference labels.#

Let’s apply the Genie algorithm (with the default/recommended gini_threshold parameter value). The genieclust package’s interface is compatible with the one from the popular scikit-learn library [32]. In particular, an object of class Genie is equipped with the fit and fit_predict methods [1].

g = genieclust.Genie(n_clusters=n_clusters)
labels_genie = g.fit_predict(X)

See the documentation of the genieclust.Genieclass for more details.

Plotting of the discovered partition:

genieclust.plots.plot_scatter(X, labels=labels_genie)
plt.title("Genie (gini_threshold=%g)" % g.gini_threshold)

Figure 2 Labels predicted by Genie.#


A picture is worth a thousand words, but numbers are worth millions of pictures. We can compare the resulting clustering with the reference one by computing, for example, the confusion matrix.

# Compute the confusion matrix (with pivoting)
genieclust.compare_partitions.normalized_confusion_matrix(labels_true, labels_genie)
## array([[276,   0],
##        [  0,  97]])

The above confusion matrix can be summarised by means of partition similarity measures, like the Adjusted Rand Index (ar).

# See also: sklearn.metrics.adjusted_rand_score()
genieclust.compare_partitions.adjusted_rand_score(labels_true, labels_genie)
## 1.0

Which of course denotes a perfect match between these two.

A Comparison with k-means#

For the sake of comparison, let’s apply the k-means algorithm on the same dataset.

import sklearn.cluster
km = sklearn.cluster.KMeans(n_clusters=n_clusters)
labels_kmeans = km.fit_predict(X)
genieclust.plots.plot_scatter(X, labels=labels_kmeans)

Figure 3 Labels predicted by k-means.#

It is well known that the k-means algorithm can only split the input space into convex regions (compare the notion of the Voronoi diagrams). So we shouldn’t be much surprised with this result.

# Compute the confusion matrix for the k-means output:
genieclust.compare_partitions.normalized_confusion_matrix(labels_true, labels_kmeans)
## array([[197,  79],
##        [  1,  96]])
# A cluster similarity measure for k-means:
genieclust.compare_partitions.adjusted_rand_score(labels_true, labels_kmeans)
## 0.3241080446115835

The adjusted Rand score of \(\sim 0.3\) indicates a far-from-perfect fit.

A Comparison with HDBSCAN*#

Let’s also make a comparison against a version of the DBSCAN [7, 25] algorithm. The original DBSCAN relies on a somewhat magical eps parameter, which might be hard to tune in practice. However, the hdbscan package [27] implements its robustified variant [2], which makes the algorithm much more user-friendly.

Here are the clustering results with the min_cluster_size parameter of 3, 5, 10, and 15:

import hdbscan
mcs = [3, 5, 10, 15]
for i in range(len(mcs)):
    h = hdbscan.HDBSCAN(min_cluster_size=mcs[i])
    labels_hdbscan = h.fit_predict(X)
    plt.subplot(2, 2, i+1)
    genieclust.plots.plot_scatter(X, labels=labels_hdbscan)
    plt.title("HDBSCAN (min_cluster_size=%d)" % h.min_cluster_size)

Figure 4 Labels predicted by HDBSCAN*.#

Side note.

Gray plotting symbols denote “noise” points — we’ll get back to them in another section; it turns out that the Genie algorithm is also equipped with such a feature (on demand).

In HDBSCAN*, min_cluster_size affects the “granularity” of the obtained clusters. Its default value is set to:

## 5

Unfortunately, we cannot easily guess how many clusters will be generated by this method. At a first glance, it would seem that min_cluster_size should lie somewhere between 10 and 15, but…

mcs = range(10, 16)
for i in range(len(mcs)):
    h = hdbscan.HDBSCAN(min_cluster_size=mcs[i])
    labels_hdbscan = h.fit_predict(X)
    plt.subplot(3, 2, i+1)
    genieclust.plots.plot_scatter(X, labels=labels_hdbscan)
    plt.title("HDBSCAN (min_cluster_size=%d)"%h.min_cluster_size)

Figure 5 Labels predicted by HDBSCAN*.#

Strangely enough, min_cluster_size of \(11\) generates 4 clusters, whereas \(11\pm 1\) - only 3 of them.

On the other hand, the Genie algorithm belongs to the group of hierarchical agglomerative methods — by definition it’s able to generate a sequence of nested partitions, which means that by increasing n_clusters, we split one and only one cluster into two subgroups. This makes the resulting partitions more stable.

ncl = range(2, 8)
for i in range(len(ncl)):
    g = genieclust.Genie(n_clusters=ncl[i])
    labels_genie = g.fit_predict(X)
    plt.subplot(3, 2, i+1)
    genieclust.plots.plot_scatter(X, labels=labels_genie)
    plt.title("Genie (n_clusters=%d)"%(g.n_clusters,))

Figure 6 Labels predicted by Genie.#


Dendrogram plotting is possible with scipy.cluster.hierarchy:

import scipy.cluster.hierarchy
g = genieclust.Genie(compute_full_tree=True)
linkage_matrix = np.column_stack([g.children_, g.distances_, g.counts_])
    show_leaf_counts=False, no_labels=True)

Figure 7 Example dendrogram.#

For a list of graphical parameters, refer to the function’s manual:

    truncate_mode="lastp", p=15, orientation="left")

Figure 8 Another example dendrogram.#

Further Reading#

For more details, refer to the package’s API reference manual: genieclust.Genie.

To learn more about Python, check out Marek’s open-access (free!) textbook Minimalist Data Wrangling in Python [13].