Joint Clustering With Correlated Variables


Traditional clustering methods focus on grouping subjects or (dependent) variables assuming independence between the variables. Clusters formed through these approaches can potentially lack homogeneity. This article proposes a joint clustering method by which both variables and subjects are clustered. In each joint cluster (in general composed of a subset of variables and a subset of subjects), there exists a unique association between dependent variables and covariates of interest. To this end, a Bayesian method is designed, in which a semi-parametric model is used to evaluate any unknown relationships between possibly correlated variables and covariates of interest, and a Dirichlet process is used to cluster subjects. Compared to existing clustering techniques, the major novelty of the method exists in its ability to improve the homogeneity of clusters, along with the ability to take the correlations between variables into account. Via simulations, we examine the performance and efficiency of the proposed method. Applying the method to cluster allergens and subjects based on the association of wheal size in reaction to allergens with age, we found that a certain pattern of allergic sensitization to a set of allergens has a potential to reduce the occurrence of asthma.

Publication Title

American Statistician