I am performing classical MDS on a dataset (Gower matrix returned by R cluster package function daisy). In my field, a measure of fit of the MDS is reported. Other researchers usually perform this analysis with the Clustan software (Wishart 2004) software, which performs the Kruskal's Stress test. Kruskal's stress is defined as:

$$ \sqrt{\frac{\sum (d_{ij}-\delta_{ij})^{2}}{\sum d_{ij}^{2}}} $$

where 𝑑𝑖𝑗 represents the distances, and 𝛿𝑖𝑗 represents the disparities.

Despite several lost hours googling around, I can't get my hands on this Clustan software, so I'm trying to recreate this analysis in R. I can perform MDS fine with cmdscale in R, but I don't understand the 'Goodness of Fit' ($GOF$) measure returned by cmdscale and would prefer to use what's standard in my field. Are there any packages that include Kruskal's Stress for MDS in R? Is there a way to calculate it manually?


1 Answer 1


The MDS performed here is non-metric MDS: Kruskal's stress (or loss function) as defined in your question:

\begin{equation} \sqrt{\frac{\sum \left(d_{ij}-\delta_{ij}\right)^2}{\sum d_{ij}^{2}}} \end{equation}

where the disparities $\delta_{ij}$ preserve the order of the original dissimilarities

To minimise Kruskal's stress in R you can use the function isoMDS in the MASS package.

Below I provide a simple example of this with the Kellogg's data from Multidimensional Scaling by Cox & Cox (2001).


Kellog.dat$Shelf <- as.factor(Kellog.dat$Shelf)

# Using daisy with Gower's metric like in your question
gower.dissimilarity <- daisy(Kellog.dat, metric= "gower")

# Minimising the stress function 
nonmetric.MDS <- isoMDS(gower.dissimilarity,k=2)

In the output from isoMDS you can see that the stress converged

initial  value 19.588355 
iter   5 value 14.955953
iter  10 value 14.577013
iter  10 value 14.575003
iter  10 value 14.575003
final  value 14.575003 

Then you can also create a plot if you would like to do so

plot(nonmetric.MDS$points,asp=1,type = "n",xlab="",ylab="")
text(nonmetric.MDS$points, labels = rownames(Kellog.dat))


Here is the data that I used if you want to try it out for yourself:

Kellog.dat <-
structure(list(NumCal = c(70L, 50L, 110L, 100L, 110L, 110L, 110L, 
110L, 110L, 100L, 120L, 110L, 140L, 160L, 120L, 140L, 90L, 100L, 
120L, 90L, 110L, 110L, 110L), Protein = c(4L, 4L, 2L, 2L, 1L, 
3L, 2L, 2L, 1L, 3L, 3L, 2L, 3L, 3L, 2L, 3L, 3L, 3L, 3L, 2L, 2L, 
2L, 6L), Fat = c(1L, 0L, 0L, 0L, 0L, 3L, 0L, 1L, 0L, 0L, 0L, 
1L, 1L, 2L, 1L, 2L, 0L, 0L, 1L, 0L, 0L, 1L, 0L), Sodium = c(260L, 
140L, 125L, 290L, 90L, 140L, 220L, 125L, 200L, 0L, 240L, 170L, 
170L, 150L, 190L, 220L, 170L, 320L, 210L, 0L, 290L, 70L, 230L
), DietFibre = c(9L, 14L, 1L, 1L, 1L, 4L, 1L, 1L, 1L, 3L, 5L, 
1L, 2L, 3L, 0L, 3L, 3L, 1L, 5L, 2L, 0L, 1L, 1L), CarboHyds = c(7L, 
8L, 11L, 21L, 13L, 10L, 21L, 11L, 14L, 14L, 14L, 17L, 20L, 17L, 
15L, 21L, 18L, 20L, 14L, 15L, 22L, 9L, 16L), Sugars = c(5L, 0L, 
14L, 2L, 12L, 7L, 3L, 13L, 11L, 7L, 12L, 6L, 9L, 13L, 9L, 7L, 
2L, 3L, 12L, 6L, 3L, 15L, 3L), Shelf = c(3L, 3L, 2L, 1L, 2L, 
3L, 3L, 2L, 1L, 2L, 3L, 3L, 3L, 3L, 2L, 3L, 3L, 3L, 2L, 3L, 1L, 
2L, 1L), Potassium = c(320L, 330L, 30L, 35L, 20L, 160L, 30L, 
30L, 25L, 100L, 190L, 60L, 95L, 160L, 40L, 130L, 90L, 45L, 240L, 
110L, 35L, 40L, 55L), VitMins = c(25L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 
25L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 100L, 100L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 100L, 
25L, 25L, 25L, 25L, 25L)), .Names = c("NumCal", "Protein", "Fat", 
"Sodium", "DietFibre", "CarboHyds", "Sugars", "Shelf", "Potassium", 
"VitMins"), class = "data.frame", row.names = c("AllB", "AllF", 
"AppJ", "CorF", "CorP", "Crac", "Cris", "Froo", "FroF", "FrMW", 
"FruB", "JRCN", "JRFN", "MuCB", "Nut&", "NGAR", "NutW", "Prod", 
"RaBr", "Rais", "RiKr", "Smac", "Spec"))

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