Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Santa Barbara

ADCN: An Anisotropic Density-Based Clustering Algorithm for Discovering Spatial Point Patterns with Noise


Density-based clustering algorithms such as DBSCAN have been widely used for spatial knowledge discovery as they offer several key advantages compared to other clustering algorithms. They can discover clusters with arbitrary shapes, are robust to noise and do not require prior knowledge (or estimation) of the number of clusters. The idea of using a scan circle centered at each point with a search radius Eps to find at least MinPts points as a criterion for deriving local density is easily understandable and sufficient for exploring isotropic spatial point patterns. However, there are many cases that cannot be adequately captured this way, particularly if they involve linear features or shapes with a continuously changing density such as a spiral. In such cases, DBSCAN tends to either create an increasing number of small clusters or add noise points into large clusters. Therefore, in this paper, we propose a novel anisotropic density-based clustering algorithm (ADCN). To motivate our work, we introduce synthetic and real-world cases that cannot be sufficiently handled by DBSCAN (and OPTICS). We then present our clustering algorithm and test it with a wide range of cases. We demonstrate that our algorithm can perform as equally well as DBSCAN in cases that do not explicitly benefit from an anisotropic perspective and that it outperforms DBSCAN in cases that do. We show that our approach has the same time complexity as DBSCAN and OPTICS, namely O(n log n) when using a spatial index and O(n 2 ) otherwise. We provide an implementation and test the runtime over multiple cases. Finally, we apply DBSCAN, OPTICS, and ADCN to the task of extracting urban areas of interest (AOI) from geotagged photos in six cities. Visual comparison shows that, comparing to DBSCAN and OPTICS, ADCN is inclined to extract AOIs with linear shapes which follow the underline road networks. ADCN also turns out to connect clusters when the spatial distribution of them shows similar directions.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View