- Keywords: Variational Autoencoder, Clustering, Generative model
- Abstract: Clustering high-dimensional data, such as images or biological measurements, is a long-standing problem and has been studied extensively. Recently, Deep Clustering gained popularity due to the non-linearity of neural networks, which allows for flexibility in fitting the specific peculiarities of complex data. Here we introduce the Mixture-of-Experts Similarity Variational Autoencoder (MoE-Sim-VAE), a novel generative clustering model. The model can learn multi-modal distributions of high-dimensional data and use these to generate realistic data with high efficacy and efficiency. MoE-Sim-VAE is based on a Variational Autoencoder (VAE), where the decoder consists of a Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) architecture. This specific architecture allows for various modes of the data to be automatically learned by means of the experts. Additionally, we encourage the latent representation of our model to follow a Gaussian mixture distribution and to accurately represent the similarities between the data points. We assess the performance of our model on synthetic data, the MNIST benchmark data set, and a challenging real-world task of defining cell subpopulations from mass cytometry (CyTOF) measurements on hundreds of different datasets. MoE-Sim-VAE exhibits superior clustering performance on all these tasks in comparison to the baselines and we show that the MoE architecture in the decoder reduces the computational cost of sampling specific data modes with high fidelity.