I have the following problem at hand: I have a very long list of words, possibly names, surnames, etc. I need to cluster this word list, such that similar words, for example words with similar edit (Levenshtein) distance appears in the same cluster. For example "algorithm" and "alogrithm" should have high chances to appear in the same cluster.
I am well aware of the classical unsupervised clustering methods like k-means clustering, EM clustering in the Pattern Recognition literature. The problem here is that these methods work on points which reside in a vector space. I have words of strings at my hand here. It seems that, the question of how to represent strings in a numerical vector space and to calculate "means" of string clusters is not sufficiently answered, according to my survey efforts until now. A naive approach to attack this problem would be to combine k-Means clustering with Levenshtein distance, but the question still remains "How to represent "means" of strings?". There is a weight called as TF-IDF weight, but it seems that it is mostly related to the area of "text document" clustering, not for the clustering of single words. It seems that there are some special string clustering algorithms existing, like the one at http://pike.psu.edu/cleandb06/papers/CameraReady_120.pdf
My search in this area is going on still, but I wanted to get ideas from here as well. What would you do recommend in this case, is anyone aware of any methods for this kind of problem?
It seems that there are some special string clustering algorithms. If you come from specifically text-mining field, not statistics /data analysis, this statement is warranted. However, if you get to learn clustering branch as it is you'll find that there exist no "special" algorithms for string data. The "special" is how you pre-process such data before you input it into a cluster analysis. $\endgroup$