Hierarchical Agglomerative Graph Clustering in Poly-Logarithmic Depth Download PDF

Published: 31 Oct 2022, Last Modified: 13 Jan 2023NeurIPS 2022 AcceptReaders: Everyone
Keywords: hierarchical clustering, graph clustering, parallel algorithms, parallel graph algorithms, scalable algorithms
TL;DR: We give a new efficient approximate parallel algorithm for graph-based average-linkage HAC which is scalable and high quality relative to existing state-of-the-art hierarchical clustering algorithms.
Abstract: Obtaining scalable algorithms for \emph{hierarchical agglomerative clustering} (HAC) is of significant interest due to the massive size of real-world datasets. At the same time, efficiently parallelizing HAC is difficult due to the seemingly sequential nature of the algorithm. In this paper, we address this issue and present ParHAC, the first efficient parallel HAC algorithm with sublinear depth for the widely-used average-linkage function. In particular, we provide a $(1+\epsilon)$-approximation algorithm for this problem on $m$ edge graphs using $\tilde{O}(m)$ work and poly-logarithmic depth. Moreover, we show that obtaining similar bounds for \emph{exact} average-linkage HAC is not possible under standard complexity-theoretic assumptions. We complement our theoretical results with a comprehensive study of the ParHAC algorithm in terms of its scalability, performance, and quality, and compare with several state-of-the-art sequential and parallel baselines. On a broad set of large publicly-available real-world datasets, we find that ParHAC obtains a 50.1x speedup on average over the best sequential baseline, while achieving quality similar to the exact HAC algorithm. We also show that ParHAC can cluster one of the largest publicly available graph datasets with 124 billion edges in a little over three hours using a commodity multicore machine.
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