K-means clustering algorithms: A comprehensive review, variants analysis, and advances in the era of big data

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Advances in recent techniques for scientific data collection in the era of big data allow for the systematic accumulation of large quantities of data at various data-capturing sites. Similarly, exponential growth in the development of different data analysis approaches has been reported in the literature, amongst which the K-means algorithm remains the most popular and straightforward clustering algorithm. The broad applicability of the algorithm in many clustering application areas can be attributed to its implementation simplicity and low computational complexity. However, the K-means algorithm has many challenges that negatively affect its clustering performance. In the algorithm's initialization process, users must specify the number of clusters in a given dataset apriori while the initial cluster centers are randomly selected. Furthermore, the algorithm's performance is susceptible to the selection of this initial cluster and for large datasets, determining the optimal number of clusters to start with becomes complex and is a very challenging task. Moreover, the random selection of the initial cluster centers sometimes results in minimal local convergence due to its greedy nature. A further limitation is that certain data object features are used in determining their similarity by using the Euclidean distance metric as a similarity measure, but this limits the algorithm's robustness in detecting other cluster shapes and poses a great challenge in detecting overlapping clusters. Many research efforts have been conducted and reported in literature with regard to improving the K-means algorithm's performance and robustness. The current work presents an overview and taxonomy of the K-means clustering algorithm and its variants. The history of the K-means, current trends, open issues and challenges, and recommended future research perspectives are also discussed.

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Information Sciences

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