# Calculate feature weight vector for one-hot-encoded data frame in R

I have the following data frame with one categorical and two numerical columns:

    V1  V2  V3
1   A   1   3
2   A   3   5
3   B   3   3
4   C   2   3


I have turned this into the following dummy variables:

    V1.1  V1.2  V1.3 V2  V3
1   1     0     0    1   3
2   1     0     0    3   5
3   0     1     0    3   3
4   0     0     1    2   3


Now, I want to apply clustering to this latter set. I guess that I could get better results if I downweight the dummy variable columns (proportionally to their number) because with equal weights the distance based clusters will be distorted.

My question is, how could I get the following weight vector from the new data set:

0.33, 0.33, 0.33, 1, 1

• How did you do the transformation from your first data set to the second? I strongly suspect the information you need will be available as part of that transformation. Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 5:37
• I produce the dummy variables this way: data.frame(model.matrix(label~. -1, data)) Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 7:44

The information you need is in the assign attribute on the matrix returned by model.matrix. Something like this seems to work for me:

data <- data.frame(V1 = factor(c("A", "A", "B", "C")), V2 = c(1, 3, 3, 2), V3 = c(3, 5, 3, 3))
model <- model.matrix(~ . + 0, data = data)
assignments <- attr(model, "assign")
counts <- table(assignments)
weights <- sapply(assignments, function (x) { 1 / counts[[x]] })


weights is now (0.3333333, 0.3333333, 0.3333333, 1.0000000, 1.0000000).

Actually a more reasonable weight vector would be

(0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 1, 1)


Why - because any two rows will be different in exactly 0 or 2 columns. With this weight, the one-hot encoded attribute yields a distance contribution of exactly 1 or exactly 0.

The easiest way is to encode your data using these weights instead of 0 and 1 rather than applying the weights in later calculations.