Visual clustering is a common perceptual task in scatterplots that supports diverse analytics tasks (e.g., cluster identification). However, even with the same scatterplot, the ways of perceiving clusters (i.e., conducting visual clustering) can differ due to the differences among individuals and ambiguous cluster boundaries. Although such perceptual variability casts doubt on the reliability of data analysis based on visual clustering, we lack a systematic way to efficiently assess this variability. In this research, we study perceptual variability in conducting visual clustering, which we call Cluster Ambiguity. To this end, we introduce CLAMS, a data-driven visual quality measure for automatically predicting cluster ambiguity in monochrome scatterplots. We first conduct a qualitative study to identify key factors that affect the visual separation of clusters (e.g., proximity or size difference between clusters). Based on study findings, we deploy a regression module that estimates the human-judged separability of two clusters. Then, CLAMS predicts cluster ambiguity by analyzing the aggregated results of all pairwise separability between clusters that are generated by the module. CLAMS outperforms widely-used clustering techniques in predicting ground truth cluster ambiguity. Meanwhile, CLAMS exhibits performance on par with human annotators. We conclude our work by presenting two applications for optimizing and benchmarking data mining techniques using CLAMS. The interactive demo of CLAMS is available at clusterambiguity.dev.
* IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG)
(Proc. IEEE VIS 2023); equally contributed by Hyeon Jeon and Ghulam Jilani
Dimensionality reduction (DR) techniques inherently distort the original structure of input high-dimensional data, producing imperfect low-dimensional embeddings. Diverse distortion measures have thus been proposed to evaluate the reliability of DR embeddings. However, implementing and executing distortion measures in practice has so far been time-consuming and tedious. To address this issue, we present ZADU, a Python library that provides distortion measures. ZADU is not only easy to install and execute but also enables comprehensive evaluation of DR embeddings through three key features. First, the library covers a wide range of distortion measures. Second, it automatically optimizes the execution of distortion measures, substantially reducing the running time required to execute multiple measures. Last, the library informs how individual points contribute to the overall distortions, facilitating the detailed analysis of DR embeddings. By simulating a real-world scenario of optimizing DR embeddings, we verify that our optimization scheme substantially reduces the time required to execute distortion measures. Finally, as an application of ZADU, we present another library called ZADUVis that allows users to easily create distortion visualizations that depict the extent to which each region of an embedding suffers from distortions.
* 2023 IEEE Visualization and Visual Analytics (IEEE VIS 2023) Short
A common way to evaluate the reliability of dimensionality reduction (DR) embeddings is to quantify how well labeled classes form compact, mutually separated clusters in the embeddings. This approach is based on the assumption that the classes stay as clear clusters in the original high-dimensional space. However, in reality, this assumption can be violated; a single class can be fragmented into multiple separated clusters, and multiple classes can be merged into a single cluster. We thus cannot always assure the credibility of the evaluation using class labels. In this paper, we introduce two novel quality measures -- Label-Trustworthiness and Label-Continuity (Label-T&C) -- advancing the process of DR evaluation based on class labels. Instead of assuming that classes are well-clustered in the original space, Label-T&C work by (1) estimating the extent to which classes form clusters in the original and embedded spaces and (2) evaluating the difference between the two. A quantitative evaluation showed that Label-T&C outperform widely used DR evaluation measures (e.g., Trustworthiness and Continuity, Kullback-Leibler divergence) in terms of the accuracy in assessing how well DR embeddings preserve the cluster structure, and are also scalable. Moreover, we present case studies demonstrating that Label-T&C can be successfully used for revealing the intrinsic characteristics of DR techniques and their hyperparameters.
* IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG)
(Proc. IEEE VIS 2023)
We address the lack of reliability in benchmarking clustering techniques based on labeled datasets. A standard scheme in external clustering validation is to use class labels as ground truth clusters, based on the assumption that each class forms a single, clearly separated cluster. However, as such cluster-label matching (CLM) assumption often breaks, the lack of conducting a sanity check for the CLM of benchmark datasets casts doubt on the validity of external validations. Still, evaluating the degree of CLM is challenging. For example, internal clustering validation measures can be used to quantify CLM within the same dataset to evaluate its different clusterings but are not designed to compare clusterings of different datasets. In this work, we propose a principled way to generate between-dataset internal measures that enable the comparison of CLM across datasets. We first determine four axioms for between-dataset internal measures, complementing Ackerman and Ben-David's within-dataset axioms. We then propose processes to generalize internal measures to fulfill these new axioms, and use them to extend the widely used Calinski-Harabasz index for between-dataset CLM evaluation. Through quantitative experiments, we (1) verify the validity and necessity of the generalization processes and (2) show that the proposed between-dataset Calinski-Harabasz index accurately evaluates CLM across datasets. Finally, we demonstrate the importance of evaluating CLM of benchmark datasets before conducting external validation.
We introduce Uniform Manifold Approximation with Two-phase Optimization (UMATO), a dimensionality reduction (DR) technique that improves UMAP to capture the global structure of high-dimensional data more accurately. In UMATO, optimization is divided into two phases so that the resulting embeddings can depict the global structure reliably while preserving the local structure with sufficient accuracy. As the first phase, hub points are identified and projected to construct a skeletal layout for the global structure. In the second phase, the remaining points are added to the embedding preserving the regional characteristics of local areas. Through quantitative experiments, we found that UMATO (1) outperformed widely used DR techniques in preserving the global structure while (2) producing competitive accuracy in representing the local structure. We also verified that UMATO is preferable in terms of robustness over diverse initialization methods, number of epochs, and subsampling techniques.
* Under review. Hyeon Jeon and Hyung-Kwon Ko equally contributed to
Brushing is an everyday interaction in 2D scatterplots, which allows users to select and filter data points within a continuous, enclosed region and conduct further analysis on the points. However, such conventional brushing cannot be directly applied to Multidimensional Projections (MDP), as they hardly escape from False and Missing Neighbors distortions that make the relative positions of the points unreliable. To alleviate this problem, we introduce Distortion-aware brushing, a novel brushing technique for MDP. While users perform brushing, Distortion-aware brushing resolves distortions around currently brushed points by dynamically relocating points in the projection; the points whose data are close to the brushed data in the multidimensional (MD) space go near the corresponding brushed points in the projection, and the opposites move away. Hence, users can overcome distortions and readily extract out clustered data in the MD space using the technique. We demonstrate the effectiveness and applicability of Distortion-aware brushing through usage scenarios with two datasets. Finally, by conducting user studies with 30 participants, we verified that Distortion-aware brushing significantly outperforms previous brushing techniques in precisely separating clusters in the MD space, and works robustly regardless of the types or the amount of distortions in MDP.
* This work has been submitted to the IEEE Transactions on
Visualization and Computer Graphics for possible publication. Copyright may
be transferred without notice, after which this version may no longer be
We propose Steadiness and Cohesiveness, two novel metrics to measure the inter-cluster reliability of multidimensional projection (MDP), specifically how well the inter-cluster structures are preserved between the original high-dimensional space and the low-dimensional projection space. Measuring inter-cluster reliability is crucial as it directly affects how well inter-cluster tasks (e.g., identifying cluster relationships in the original space from a projected view) can be conducted; however, despite the importance of inter-cluster tasks, we found that previous metrics, such as Trustworthiness and Continuity, fail to measure inter-cluster reliability. Our metrics consider two aspects of the inter-cluster reliability: Steadiness measures the extent to which clusters in the projected space form clusters in the original space, and Cohesiveness measures the opposite. They extract random clusters with arbitrary shapes and positions in one space and evaluate how much the clusters are stretched or dispersed in the other space. Furthermore, our metrics can quantify pointwise distortions, allowing for the visualization of inter-cluster reliability in a projection, which we call a reliability map. Through quantitative experiments, we verify that our metrics precisely capture the distortions that harm inter-cluster reliability while previous metrics have difficulty capturing the distortions. A case study also demonstrates that our metrics and the reliability map 1) support users in selecting the proper projection techniques or hyperparameters and 2) prevent misinterpretation while performing inter-cluster tasks, thus allow an adequate identification of inter-cluster structure.
* IEEE Transactions of Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG, Proc.
VIS 2021), to appear