Overlapping Clustering Models, and One (class) SVM to Bind Them All

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Xueyu Mao, Purnamrita Sarkar, Deepayan Chakrabarti


People belong to multiple communities, words belong to multiple topics, and books cover multiple genres; overlapping clusters are commonplace. Many existing overlapping clustering methods model each person (or word, or book) as a non-negative weighted combination of "exemplars" who belong solely to one community, with some small noise. Geometrically, each person is a point on a cone whose corners are these exemplars. This basic form encompasses the widely used Mixed Membership Stochastic Blockmodel of networks and its degree-corrected variants, as well as topic models such as LDA. We show that a simple one-class SVM yields provably consistent parameter inference for all such models, and scales to large datasets. Experimental results on several simulated and real datasets show our algorithm (called SVM-cone) is both accurate and scalable.