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Hardeep Singh
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What is the difference between hierarchical clustering and k-means clustering?


Hierarchical clustering and k-means based clustering are two common methods that are used in data analysis as well as machine learning to cluster related data points. Both methods aim to identify clusters in a data set but they differ in the way they approach and the type of clusters they create. This article we'll examine the differences between hierarchical clustering and K-means clustering in depth. Data Science Course in Pune


Hierarchical Clustering Hierarchical clustering can be described as an approach from the bottom up that is also referred to as agglomerative clumping. It begins by treating each data point as separate cluster. It then joins the most close clusters in a series of iterative steps until a single cluster is left. This process creates a hierarchical structure for clusters, which is often depicted as dendrograms.


Two primary kinds of hierarchical clustering: Agglomerative clustering This starts by treating every data point being an individual cluster, and then gradually merges the clusters closest to it until there is only one cluster left. The merging is dependent on the measure of dissimilarity or similarity between clusters, including Euclidean distance, or correlation coefficients.


Dividesive Clustering The process begins with the entire set of the data points of the same cluster and splits them up into smaller clusters until every data point is located in their own group. This approach is more uncommon and more expensive computationally in comparison to agglomerative aggregation.


Hierarchical clustering doesn't need a predetermined number of clusters as it establishes a cluster hierarchy which allows for various levels of detail. It provides an illustration of the clustering process using the dendrogram. This could be helpful in exploratory analysis and finding the ideal quantity of clusters.


K-means Clustering: K means clustering is an iterative method of partitioning an entire dataset into a set quantity (k) of exclusive mutually bonded clusters. It's aim is to minimize the amount of distances that are squared between the points of data and their respective cluster centersoids. The algorithm operates in the following manner the following:

Initialization Choose randomly k points of data to be the initial centroids. Assignment Each data object is assigned to the closest centroid using the distance metric, usually Euclidean distance.

Changes: The centroids are recalculated by taking the median for all points that are assigned for each cluster.

Repetition: Iterate steps 2 and 3 until convergence when the centroids don't change significantly, or until a maximum number of repetitions is reached.


K-means clustering needs that the amount of clusters that must be defined beforehand, which may be a problem. It is an algorithm that is more efficient in terms of computation as compared to hierarchical, which makes it suitable for large data sets.

Differentialities: Now that we have covered the fundamentals of hierarchical and k'means clustering Let's look at the major distinctions between these two approaches:


The nature of clusters Hierarchical clustering is the structure of clusters in a hierarchical manner which allows for various levels of granularity, and also recording complicated relationships. K-means clustering creates distinct non-overlapping clusters that are dependent on the amount of clusters defined.


number of clusters The hierarchical model does not need an amount of clusters to be defined because it creates an dendrogram that is cut at various heights to create varying numbers of clusters. K-means clustering is, however is dependent on a predetermined amount of clusters.

Computing: Hierarchical clustering can be costly computationally, particularly for large amounts of data because the algorithm has to determine the pairwise distances between each data element. K-means clustering is generally more efficient in computational efficiency because of its iterative nature and less complicated distance calculation.


The shape of the cluster: Hierarchical clustering can manage clusters of different sizes and shapes, including non-convex and irregular clusters. K-means clustering presumes that clusters are isotropic and spherical. This means that it can be a challenge for clusters with different sizes or shapes.

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