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# Sharper Generalization Bounds for Clustering

*Proceedings of the 38th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 139:6392-6402, 2021.

#### Abstract

Existing generalization analysis of clustering mainly focuses on specific instantiations, such as (kernel) $k$-means, and a unified framework for studying clustering performance is still lacking. Besides, the existing excess clustering risk bounds are mostly of order $\mathcal{O}(K/\sqrt{n})$ provided that the underlying distribution has bounded support, where $n$ is the sample size and $K$ is the cluster numbers, or of order $\mathcal{O}(K^2/n)$ under strong assumptions on the underlying distribution, where these assumptions are hard to be verified in general. In this paper, we propose a unified clustering learning framework and investigate its excess risk bounds, obtaining state-of-the-art upper bounds under mild assumptions. Specifically, we derive sharper bounds of order $\mathcal{O}(K^2/n)$ under mild assumptions on the covering number of the hypothesis spaces, where these assumptions are easy to be verified. Moreover, for the hard clustering scheme, such as (kernel) $k$-means, if just assume the hypothesis functions to be bounded, we improve the upper bounds from the order $\mathcal{O}(K/\sqrt{n})$ to $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{K}/\sqrt{n})$. Furthermore, state-of-the-art bounds of faster order $\mathcal{O}(K/n)$ are obtained with the covering number assumptions.