Application of feature selection methods for automated clustering analysis: a review on synthetic datasets

Aliyu Usman Ahmad, Andrew Starkey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The effective modelling of high-dimensional data with hundreds to thousands of features remains a challenging task in the field of machine learning. This process is a manually intensive task and requires skilled data scientists to apply exploratory data analysis techniques and statistical methods in pre-processing datasets for meaningful analysis with machine learning methods. However, the massive growth of data has brought about the need for fully automated data analysis methods. One of the key challenges is the accurate selection of a set of relevant features, which can be buried in high-dimensional data along with irrelevant noisy features, by choosing a subset of the complete set of input features that predicts the output with higher accuracy comparable to the performance of the complete input set. Kohonen’s self-organising neural network map has been utilised in various ways for this task, such as with the weighted self-organising map (WSOM) approach and this method is reviewed for its efficacy. The study demonstrates that the WSOM approach can result in different results on different runs on a given dataset due to the inappropriate use of the steepest descent optimisation method to minimise the weighted SOM’s cost function. An alternative feature weighting approach based on analysis of the SOM after training is presented; the proposed approach allows the SOM to converge before analysing the input relevance, unlike the WSOM that aims to apply weighting to the inputs during the training which distorts the SOM’s cost function, resulting in multiple local minimums meaning the SOM does not consistently converge to the same state. We demonstrate the superiority of the proposed method over the WSOM and a standard SOM in feature selection with improved clustering analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-328
Number of pages12
JournalNeural Computing and Applications
Issue number7
Early online date22 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Open via Springer Compact Agreement


  • clustering
  • self-organising neural network map
  • feature selection
  • automation


Dive into the research topics of 'Application of feature selection methods for automated clustering analysis: a review on synthetic datasets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this