Engineering Fall Seminar

Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering

Speaker: Jim Keller, Curators’ Distinguished Professorship, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science – University of Missouri
Location: Galanti Lounge, 3rd Floor URI Library
Date/Time: Thursday, September 20th at 11:00 a.m.
Title: “Streaming Consciousness on Streaming Clustering”


As one of us who has been involved in research and applications of clustering for many years, I’ve come to view the clustering enterprise through three basic questions: 1. Do you believe there are any clusters in your data? 2. If so, can you come up with a technique to find the natural grouping of your data? 3. Are the clusters you found good groupings of the data? These questions have fueled many advances to both feature vector analytics and relational data analytics. Question 1 probably draws the least attention since us clustering folk want to get about our business. However for example, some nice visualization techniques have been advanced to assist with this assertion. A side benefit of not skipping this aspect of the problem is that the methods to provide an idea of whether the data has natural clusters also give hints about the big question of how many clusters to search for. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of answers to Question 2, and always room for more. Question 3 looks at the issue of cluster validity, usually optimizing the number of clusters to provide compact and well separated groups of data.

With the explosion of ubiquitous continuous sensing (something Lotfi Zadeh predicted as one of the pillars of Recognition Technology in the late 1990s), on-line streaming clustering is attracting more and more attention. I was drawn into this world mainly due to our desire to continuously monitor the activities, and health conditions, of older adults in a large interdisciplinary eldercare research group. Roughly, the requirements are that the streaming clustering algorithm recognize and adapt clusters as the data evolves, that anomalies are detected, and that new clusters are automatically formed as incoming data dictate. Several groups are building algorithms to perform on-line clustering. But, how do those requirements conform to the long-held trust in the three questions of clustering? The purpose of this talk is to examine (my thoughts on) these questions as they relate to streaming clustering. I chose to call it “streaming consciousness” to highlight that this is not a completely defined answer, but more a flow of thoughts about this overall area.


James M. Keller received the Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1978. He holds the University of Missouri Curators’ Distinguished Professorship in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science Departments on the Columbia campus. Professor Keller has coauthored around 500 technical publications. Jim is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a Fellow of the International Fuzzy Systems Association (IFSA), and a past President of the North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society (NAFIPS). He received the 2007 Fuzzy Systems Pioneer Award and the 2010 Meritorious Service Award from the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS). Jim finished a full six year term as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, followed by being the Vice President for Publications of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society from 2005-2008, and is in another stint as VP Pubs. He was the IEEE TAB Transactions Chair as a member of the IEEE Periodicals Committee, and is a member of the IEEE Publication Review and Advisory Committee from 2010 to 2017.