Automatic Cluster Identification for Environmental Applications using the Self-organizing Maps and a New Genetic Algorithm

Geocarto International, Volume 25, Issue 1 February 2010, pages 53 – 69

Tonny J. Oyana and Dajun Dai

“A rapid increase of environmental data dimensionality emphasizes the importance of developing data-driven inductive approaches to geographic analysis. This article uses a loosely coupled strategy to combine the technique of self-organizing maps (SOM) with a new genetic algorithm (GA) for automatic identification of clusters in multidimensional environmental datasets. In the first stage, we employ the well-known classic SOM because it is able to handle the dimensional interactions and capture the number of clusters via visualization; and thus provide extraordinary insights into original data. In the second stage, this new GA rigorously delineates the cluster boundaries using a flexibly oriented elliptical search window. To test this approach, one synthetic and two real-world datasets are employed. The results confirm a more robust and reliable approach that provides a better understanding and interpretation of massive multivariate environmental datasets, thus maximizing our insights. Other key benefits include the fact that it provides a computationally fast and efficient environment to accurately detect clusters, and is highly flexible. In a nutshell, the article presents a computational approach to facilitate knowledge discovery of massive multivariate environmental datasets; as we are too familiar with their accelerating growth rate.”

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