A clustering approach to interpretable principal components

Enki, Doyo G.; Trendafilov, Nickolay T. and Jolliffe, Ian T. (2013). A clustering approach to interpretable principal components. Journal of Applied Statistics, 40(3) pp. 583–599.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02664763.2012.749846


A new method for constructing interpretable principal components is proposed. The method first clusters the variables, and then interpretable (sparse) components are constructed from the correlation matrices of the clustered variables. For the first step of the method, a new weighted-variances method for clustering variables is proposed. It reflects the nature of the problem that the interpretable components should maximize the explained variance and thus provide sparse dimension reduction. An important feature of the new clustering procedure is that the optimal number of clusters (and components) can be determined in a non-subjective manner. The new method is illustrated using well-known simulated and real data sets. It clearly outperforms many existing methods for sparse principal component analysis in terms of both explained variance and sparseness.

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