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Clustering Phenotypically Similar Plants

August 3, 2017

In my post about preventing reproduce between phenotypically unlike plants like grass and trees, I confronted the problem of preventing weird mating patterns within plantlike. I have realized how I will solve the problem: I can use the k-means algorithm to cluster plants genetically. Each plant would present reproductively relevant information as a vector for cluster centroids to adjust to. Plants within the same cluster are possible breeding partners.

Reproductively relevant variables might include width and height. Variables like heliophilia, water retention, and soil nutrient exchange patterns might be worth not considering within the clustering algorithm, as I don’t want to prevent plants from mating because one wants more water than the other, we want those traits to be communicated quickly.

The next question to address is how to pick how to pick the number clusters to assign to a dataset. There isn’t really a ubiquitous answer to how many clusters to use, but off the cuff I think we could restrict membership into a cluster if the cluster is too far away, creating a new cluster once a plant breaks too far from the existing clusters.

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