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The goal of diceR is to provide a systematic framework for generating diverse cluster ensembles in R. There are a lot of nuances in cluster analysis to consider. We provide a process and a suite of functions and tools to implement a systematic framework for cluster discovery, guiding the user through the generation of a diverse clustering solutions from data, ensemble formation, algorithm selection and the arrival at a final consensus solution. We have additionally developed visual and analytical validation tools to help with the assessment of the final result. We implemented a wrapper function dice() that allows the user to easily obtain results and assess them. Thus, the package is accessible to both end user with limited statistical knowledge. Full access to the package is available for informaticians and statisticians and the functions are easily expanded. More details can be found in our companion paper published at BMC Bioinformatics.


You can install diceR from CRAN with:


Or get the latest development version from GitHub:

# install.packages("devtools")


The following example shows how to use the main function of the package, dice(). A data matrix hgsc contains a subset of gene expression measurements of High Grade Serous Carcinoma Ovarian cancer patients from the Cancer Genome Atlas publicly available datasets. Samples as rows, features as columns. The function below runs the package through the dice() function. We specify (a range of) nk clusters over reps subsamples of the data containing 80% of the full samples. We also specify the clustering algorithms to be used and the ensemble functions used to aggregated them in cons.funs.

obj <- dice(hgsc, nk = 4, reps = 5, algorithms = c("hc", "diana"),
            cons.funs = c("kmodes", "majority"))

The first few cluster assignments are shown below:

kmodes majority
TCGA.04.1331_PRO.C5 3 3
TCGA.04.1332_MES.C1 3 3
TCGA.04.1336_DIF.C4 1 3
TCGA.04.1337_MES.C1 3 3
TCGA.04.1338_MES.C1 3 3
TCGA.04.1341_PRO.C5 3 3

You can also compare the base algorithms with the cons.funs using internal evaluation indices:

Algorithms calinski_harabasz dunn pbm tau gamma c_index davies_bouldin mcclain_rao sd_dis ray_turi g_plus silhouette s_dbw Compactness Connectivity
HC_Euclidean 4.945499 0.3025234 38.34704 0.1992999 0.5598731 0.3122823 2.585780 0.8237540 0.1795670 3.0886000 0.0278858 0.0300838 NaN 24.81662 49.69405
DIANA_Euclidean 51.332198 0.3348103 32.92726 0.4271483 0.6216897 0.1639431 2.782694 0.8077658 0.2034291 3.1687896 0.0892952 0.0700862 NaN 22.05147 227.34841
kmodes 39.127460 0.3352598 49.27019 0.3907289 0.5528538 0.2020221 1.669753 0.8254116 0.1046540 1.1356906 0.1116735 NaN NaN 22.66419 148.61865
majority 5.645220 0.4315581 96.93674 0.2221915 0.7330421 0.2458043 1.393811 0.7781939 0.0948754 0.8261741 0.0122634 NaN NaN 24.70600 24.35079


This figure is a visual schematic of the pipeline that dice() implements.

Ensemble Clustering pipeline.

Please visit the overview page for more detail.