Emergence in Self Organizing Feature Maps


  • Alfred Ultsch




Emergence, Clustering, Visualization, SOM, U-Matrix, DDC: 004 (Data processing, computer science, computer systems)


This paper sheds some light on the differences between SOM and emergent SOM (ESOM). The discussion in philosophy and epistemology about Emergence is summarized in the form of postulates. The properties of SOM are compared to these postulates. SOM fulfill most of the postulates. The epistemological postulates regarding this issue are hard, if not impossible, to prove. An alternative postulate relying on semiotic concepts, called "semiotic irreducibility" is proposed here. This concept is applied to U-Matrix on SOM with many neurons. This leads to the definition of ESOM as SOM producing a nontrivial U-Matrix on which the terms "watershed" and "catchment basin" are meaningful and which are cluster conform. The usefulness of the approach is demonstrated with an ESOM clustering algorithm which exploits the emergent properties of such SOM. Results on synthetic data also in blind studies are convincing. The application of ESOM clustering for a real world problem let to an excellent solution.