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Multilevel Functional Clustering Analysis





Summary In this article, we investigate clustering methods for multilevel functional data, which consist of repeated random functions observed for a large number of units (e.g., genes) at multiple subunits (e.g., bacteria types). To describe the within- and between variability induced by the hierarchical structure in the data, we take a multilevel functional principal component analysis (MFPCA) approach. We develop and compare a hard clustering method applied to the scores derived from the MFPCA and a soft clustering method using an MFPCA decomposition. In a simulation study, we assess the estimation accuracy of the clustering membership and the cluster patterns under a series of settings: small versus moderate number of time points; various noise levels; and varying number of subunits per unit. We demonstrate the applicability of the clustering analysis to a real data set consisting of expression profiles from genes activated by immunity system cells. Prevalent response patterns are identified by clustering the expression profiles using our multilevel clustering analysis.