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An Evaluation of Self-Organizing Map Networks as a Robust Alternative to Factor Analysis in Data Mining Applications


  • Melody Y. Kiang

    () (Information Systems Department, College of Business Administration, California State University at Long Beach, Long Beach, California 90840)

  • Ajith Kumar

    () (Department of Marketing, College of Business, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287)


Kohonen's self-organizing map (SOM) network is one of the most important network architectures developed during the 1980s. The main function of SOM networks is to map the input data from an n -dimensional space to a lower dimensional (usually one- or two-dimensional) plot while maintaining the original topological relations. Therefore, it can be viewed as an analog of factor analysis. In this research, we evaluate the feasibility of using SOM networks as a robust alternative to factor analysis and clustering for data mining applications. Specifically, we compare SOM network solutions to factor analytic and K-Means clustering solutions on simulated data sets with known underlying factor and cluster structures.The comparisons indicate that the SOM networks provide solutions superior to unrotated factor solutions in general and provide more accurate recovery of underlying cluster structures when the input data are skewed. Our findings suggest that SOM networks can provide robust alternatives to traditional factor analysis and clustering techniques in data mining applications.

Suggested Citation

  • Melody Y. Kiang & Ajith Kumar, 2001. "An Evaluation of Self-Organizing Map Networks as a Robust Alternative to Factor Analysis in Data Mining Applications," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 12(2), pages 177-194, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:orisre:v:12:y:2001:i:2:p:177-194

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lee G. Cooper & Giovanni Giuffrida, 2000. "Turning Datamining into a Management Science Tool: New Algorithms and Empirical Results," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(2), pages 249-264, February.
    2. F. Murtagh & M. Hernández-Pajares, 1995. "The Kohonen self-organizing map method: An assessment," Journal of Classification, Springer;The Classification Society, vol. 12(2), pages 165-190, September.
    3. Lawrence Hubert & Phipps Arabie, 1985. "Comparing partitions," Journal of Classification, Springer;The Classification Society, vol. 2(1), pages 193-218, December.
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    1. repec:pal:jorsoc:v:56:y:2005:i:1:d:10.1057_palgrave.jors.2601807 is not listed on IDEAS


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