Assessing and quantifying clusteredness: The OPTICS Cordillera

Thomas Rusch, Kurt Hornik, Patrick Mair

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

34 Downloads (Pure)


This article provides a framework for assessing and quantifying “clusteredness” of a data representation. Clusteredness is a global univariate property defined as a layout diverging from equidistance of points to the closest neighboring point set. The OPTICS algorithm encodes the global clusteredness as a pair of clusteredness-representative distances and an algorithmic ordering. We use this to construct an index for quantification of clusteredness, coined the OPTICS Cordillera, as the norm of subsequent differences over the pair. We provide lower and upper bounds and a normalization for the index. We show the index captures important aspects of clusteredness such as cluster compactness, cluster separation, and number of clusters simultaneously. The index can be used as a goodness-of-clusteredness statistic, as a function over a grid or to compare different representations. For illustration, we apply our suggestion to dimensionality reduced 2D representations of Californian counties with respect to 48 climate change related variables. Online supplementary material is available (including an R package, the data and additional mathematical details).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220 - 233
JournalJournal of Computational and Graphical Statistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 101018 Statistics
  • 501
  • 509013 Social statistics
  • 509

Cite this