A clustering algorithm that will perform clustering on each of a time-series of discrete (not a data stream… yet) datasets, and explicitly track the evolution of clusters over time.

If you use the ChronoClust algorithm, please cite the associated publication:

Putri, Givanna H., Mark N. Read, Irena Koprinska, Deeksha Singh, Uwe Röhm, Thomas M. Ashhurst, and Nicholas JC King. “ChronoClust: Density-based clustering and cluster tracking in high-dimensional time-series data.” Knowledge-Based Systems 174 (2019): 9-26


To run the project you will require the following packages for python 3:

  1. pandas
  2. numpy
  3. scipy
  4. scikit-learn
  5. pickle
  6. tqdm
  7. deprecation

How do I use chronoclust?

Chronoclust is available on:

  1. Anaconda:
  2. Pypi:

Download them or just use the stable source code here:

Secondly, you need to have a bunch of data (doh!), and create a xml file containing the location of the data files. The files have to be in csv format compressed as gzip (extension csv.gz). Each file need to be associated with a time point - day 1, 2, 3 etc. Have a look at sample_run_script/config/input.xml for an example.

Thirdly, you need to define the config Chronoclust will be run with. Define the configs in a xml file. Look at sample_run_script/config/config.xml for an example, and the published article linked above for information on what parameters are there and how are they used in Chronoclust.

Running Chronoclust in Python

After setting everything up, all you need to is just import chronoclust, and run it like below.

import chronoclust

basedir = '/Users/example/Documents/workdir'
in_file = basedir + '/input.xml'
config_file = basedir + '/config.xml', in_file, basedir, basedir)

In the above script, the input and config files are stored in /Users/example/Documents/workdir and the clustering result will also be written into the same directory. You can store the config/input files in different directories (doesn’t matter).

If you have a gated or labelled data and want to see how effective Chronoclust is, you can pass a gating_file argument to the run command above and supply it with a csv file containing the centroid of each population or cluster. Please look at sample_run_script/ for example.

Running Chronoclust in R

Well, Chronoclust is not written in R but thanks to the fabulous people who write reticulate package, it is now posisble to run Python code in R.

You still need to download Chronoclust API from Anaconda or Pypi and setup the xml files. Thereafter, have a look at sample_run_script/run_chronoclust.R for example on how to run Chronoclust in R.

Where to start with the parameters?

You can pretty much start with any value for any parameters, but to at least get some kind of clustering, I recommend you start with setting pi to be the dimensionality of your dataset (number of columns or markers in the dataset). This gives Chronoclust the flexibility in creating the Microclusters.

Once you have some kind of clustering going, then you can start playing around with others. I will generally start by looking at the number of clusters produced and tuning epsilon. If there are too many clusters (overclustering), I’ll tune epsilon down (make it smaller). Otherwise, make it a bit bigger. Do note that a small reduction/increment in epsilon can dramatically alter the clustering produced. After it looks sort of right, then you can move on to beta, mu, and/or upsilon.

If you find that the clusters are too wide or big (has too big of a reach), then it could very well be that you have set the requirement for the MCs to be too lenient, i.e. the parameter combination allows small MCs to be formed and included in the final clustering. What you can do here is make beta and mu bigger so small MCs are treated as outliers and not included in final clustering. You can also make upsilon smaller, which will split your big wide cluster into few smaller ones.

Data files

The synthetic dataset and corresponding gating is available under synthetic_dataset folder.

The WNV dataset and gating are available from FlowRepository repository FR-FCM-Z285.

Providing gated files for ChronoClust

For the clustering result to be meaningful, there must be some sort of labelling attached to each cluster produced by ChronoClust. You can do this by manually annotating either the result file or the file containing the points belonging to each cluster. However, there are times (such as when we prepare the result for our paper) when a ground truth is already available. In this case, you can automatically get ChronoClust to label the clusters based on the ground truth label.

To do this, you need to first find the centroid of each cell population or grouping in your ground truth. This can easily be done by just taking the mean of the data points for each population/grouping. You can either do this yourself or just use the script in cluster_labelling/ (this is the script we used for our paper). It shall produce the file similar to the gating centroid found in synthetic dataset (synthetic_dataset/gating_fine/gating_centroids.csv) or the WNV dataset. Please note that if you want to do this, make sure you format your ground truth data in similar format as ours (label is named PopName at least). Consult synthetic_dataset/gating_fine/synthetic_d0.csv for example. Thereafter, you need to pass this file (just the location) to ChronoClust as gating_file parameter. ChronoClust will then attempt to match each cluster to the nearest population/grouping. For more information on how it does this, please download the paper.

If you do this, the result file will have an extra column call predicted_label, the cluster label based on supplied ground truth. Only after you have this then you can label each data points in cluster_points file (generated by ChronoClust) with their predicted label (based on predicted_label above) and true label (given by ground truth).