On the Worst Case Complexity of the k-means Method

Citation Technical Report
AuthorsDavid Athur
Sergei Vassilvitskii


The k-means method is an old but popular clustering algorithm known for its speed and simplicity. Until recently, however, no meaningful theoretical bounds were known on its running time. In this paper, we demonstrate that the worst-case running time of k-means is superpolynomial by improving the best known lower bound from $\Omega(n)$ iterations to $2^{\Omega(\sqrt{n})}$. To complement this lower bound, we show a smoothed-analysis type polynomial time upper bound for k-means.

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