Hierarchical GTM: Constructing localized nonlinear projection manifolds in a principled way

Peter Tino, Ian Nabney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


It has been argued that a single two-dimensional visualization plot may not be sufficient to capture all of the interesting aspects of complex data sets and, therefore, a hierarchical visualization system is desirable. In this paper, we extend an existing locally linear hierarchical visualization system PhiVis [1] in several directions: 1) We allow for nonlinear projection manifolds. The basic building block is the Generative Topographic Mapping (GTM). 2) We introduce a general formulation of hierarchical probabilistic models consisting of local probabilistic models organized in a hierarchical tree. General training equations are derived, regardless of the position of the model in the tree. 3) Using tools from differential geometry, we derive expressions for local directional curvatures of the projection manifold. Like PhiVis, our system is statistically principled and is built interactively in a top-down fashion using the EM algorithm. It enables the user to interactively highlight those data in the ancestor visualization plots which are captured by a child model. We also incorporate into our system a hierarchical, locally selective representation of magnification factors and directional curvatures of the projection manifolds. Such information is important for further refinement of the hierarchical visualization plot, as well as for controlling the amount of regularization imposed on the local models. We demonstrate the principle of the approach on a toy data set and apply our system to two more complex 12- and 18-dimensional data sets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-656
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2002


  • Data visualization, Density estimation, Directional curvature, EM algorithm, Generative topographic mapping, Hierarchical probabilistic model

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