PARMA-CC: Parallel Multiphase Approximate Cluster Combining
Paper in proceedings, 2020
Clustering is a common component in data analysis applications. Despite the extensive literature, the continuously increasing volumes of data produced by sensors (e.g. rates of several MB/s by 3D scanners such as LIDAR sensors), and the time-sensitivity of the applications leveraging the clustering outcomes (e.g. detecting critical situations, that are known to be accuracy-dependent), demand for novel approaches that respond faster while coping with large data sets. The latter is the challenge we address in this paper. We propose an algorithm, PARMA-CC, that complements existing density-based and distance-based clustering methods. PARMA-CC is based on approximate, data parallel cluster combining, where parallel threads can compute summaries of clusters of data (sub)sets and, through combining, together construct a comprehensive summary of the sets of clusters. By approximating clusters with their respective geometrical summaries, our technique scales well with increased data volumes, and, by computing and efficiently combining the summaries in parallel, it enables latency improvements. PARMA-CC combines the summaries using special data structures that enable parallelism through in-place data processing. As we show in our analysis and evaluation, PARMA-CC can complement and outperform well-established methods, with significantly better scalability, while still providing highly accurate results in a variety of data sets, even with skewed data distributions, which cause the traditional approaches to exhibit their worst-case behaviour. In the paper we also describe how PARMA-CC can facilitate time-critical applications through appropriate use of the summaries.
Approximate parallel clustering