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

Melody Y. Kiang, Ajith Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-194
Number of pages18
JournalInformation Systems Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Clustering Analysis
  • Data Mining
  • Data Reductive
  • Factor Analysis
  • Kohonen Networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences

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