Normalised clustering accuracy: An asymmetric external cluster validity measure#

My paper on a new well-behaving external cluster validity measure will appear in the Journal of Classification; preprint available here (@TODO: update) (@TODO: add DOI).

Abstract. There is no, nor will there ever be, single best clustering algorithm. Nevertheless, we would still like to be able to distinguish between methods that work well on certain task types and those that systematically underperform. Clustering algorithms are traditionally evaluated using either internal or external validity measures. Internal measures quantify different aspects of the obtained partitions, e.g., the average degree of cluster compactness or point separability. However, their validity is questionable because the clusterings they endorse can sometimes be meaningless. External measures, on the other hand, compare the algorithms’ outputs to fixed ground truth groupings provided by experts. In this paper, we argue that the commonly used classical partition similarity scores, such as the normalised mutual information, Fowlkes–Mallows, or adjusted Rand index, miss some desirable properties. In particular, they do not identify worst-case scenarios correctly, nor are they easily interpretable. As a consequence, evaluation of clustering algorithms on diverse benchmark datasets can be difficult. To remedy these issues, we propose and analyse a new measure: a version of the optimal set-matching accuracy, which is normalised, monotonic with respect to some similarity relation, scale-invariant, and corrected for the imbalancedness of cluster sizes (but neither symmetric nor adjusted for chance).