Clustering models

Clustering models focus on identifying groups of similar records and labeling the records according to the group to which they belong. This is done without the benefit of prior knowledge about the groups and their characteristics. In fact, you may not even know exactly how many groups to look for. This is what distinguishes clustering models from the other machine-learning techniques—there is no predefined output or target field for the model to predict. These models are often referred to as unsupervised learning models, since there is no external standard by which to judge the model's classification performance. There are no right or wrong answers for these models. Their value is determined by their ability to capture interesting groupings in the data and provide useful descriptions of those groupings.

Clustering methods are based on measuring distances between records and between clusters. Records are assigned to clusters in a way that tends to minimize the distance between records belonging to the same cluster.

The following clustering methods are provided:

The K-Means node clusters the data set into distinct groups (or clusters). The method defines a fixed number of clusters, iteratively assigns records to clusters, and adjusts the cluster centers until further refinement can no longer improve the model. Instead of trying to predict an outcome, k-means uses a process known as unsupervised learning to uncover patterns in the set of input fields.
The TwoStep node uses a two-step clustering method. The first step makes a single pass through the data to compress the raw input data into a manageable set of subclusters. The second step uses a hierarchical clustering method to progressively merge the subclusters into larger and larger clusters. TwoStep has the advantage of automatically estimating the optimal number of clusters for the training data. It can handle mixed field types and large data sets efficiently.
The Kohonen node generates a type of neural network that can be used to cluster the data set into distinct groups. When the network is fully trained, records that are similar should be close together on the output map, while records that are different will be far apart. You can look at the number of observations captured by each unit in the model nugget to identify the strong units. This may give you a sense of the appropriate number of clusters.
Hierarchical Density-Based Spatial Clustering (HDBSCAN)© uses unsupervised learning to find clusters, or dense regions, of a data set. The HDBSCAN node in SPSS® Modeler exposes the core features and commonly used parameters of the HDBSCAN library. The node is implemented in Python, and you can use it to cluster your dataset into distinct groups when you don't know what those groups are at first.

Clustering models are often used to create clusters or segments that are then used as inputs in subsequent analyses. A common example of this is the market segments used by marketers to partition their overall market into homogeneous subgroups. Each segment has special characteristics that affect the success of marketing efforts targeted toward it. If you are using data mining to optimize your marketing strategy, you can usually improve your model significantly by identifying the appropriate segments and using that segment information in your predictive models.