Adaptive Initialization Method for K-Means Algorithm

Jie YANG, Yu-Kai WANG, Xin YAO, Chin-Teng LIN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The K-means algorithm is a widely used clustering algorithm that offers simplicity and efficiency. However, the traditional K-means algorithm uses a random method to determine the initial cluster centers, which make clustering results prone to local optima and then result in worse clustering performance. In this research, we propose an adaptive initialization method for the K-means algorithm (AIMK) which can adapt to the various characteristics in different datasets and obtain better clustering performance with stable results. For larger or higher-dimensional datasets, we even leverage random sampling in AIMK (name as AIMK-RS) to reduce the time complexity. 22 real-world datasets were applied for performance comparisons. The experimental results show AIMK and AIMK-RS outperform the current initialization methods and several well-known clustering algorithms. Specifically, AIMK-RS can significantly reduce the time complexity to O (n). Moreover, we exploit AIMK to initialize K-medoids and spectral clustering, and better performance is also explored. The above results demonstrate superior performance and good scalability by AIMK or AIMK-RS. In the future, we would like to apply AIMK to more partition-based clustering algorithms to solve real-life practical problems. Copyright © 2021 Yang, Wang, Yao and Lin.
Original languageEnglish
Article number740817
JournalFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was supported in part by the Australian Research Council (ARC) under discovery grant DP180100656 and DP210101093. Research was also sponsored in part by the Australia Defence Innovation Hub under Contract No. P18-650825, US Office of Naval Research Global under Cooperative Agreement Number ONRG - NICOP - N62909-19-1-2058, and AFOSR – DST Australian Autonomy Initiative agreement ID10134. We also thank the NSW Defence Innovation Network and NSW State Government of Australia for financial support in part of this research through grant DINPP2019 S1-03/ 09 and PP21-22.03.02.


  • adaptive
  • clustering
  • initial cluster centers
  • initialization method
  • k-means


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