Topological Point Cloud Clustering
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:11683-11697, 2023.
We present Topological Point Cloud Clustering (TPCC), a new method to cluster points in an arbitrary point cloud based on their contribution to global topological features. TPCC synthesizes desirable features from spectral clustering and topological data analysis and is based on considering the spectral properties of a simplicial complex associated to the considered point cloud. As it is based on considering sparse eigenvector computations, TPCC is similarly easy to interpret and implement as spectral clustering. However, by focusing not just on a single matrix associated to a graph created from the point cloud data, but on a whole set of Hodge-Laplacians associated to an appropriately constructed simplicial complex, we can leverage a far richer set of topological features to characterize the data points within the point cloud and benefit from the relative robustness of topological techniques against noise. We test the performance of TPCC on both synthetic and real-world data and compare it with classical spectral clustering.