With the growing ubiquity of data in network form, clustering in the context of a network, represented as a graph, has become increasingly important. Clustering is a very useful data exploratory machine learning tool that allows us to make better sense of heterogeneous data by grouping data with similar attributes based on some criteria. This paper investigates the application of a novel graph theoretic clustering method, Node-Based Resilience clustering (NBR-Clust), to address the heterogeneity of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and identify meaningful subgroups. The hypothesis is that analysis of these subgroups would reveal relevant biomarkers that would provide a better understanding of ASD phenotypic heterogeneity useful for further ASD studies. We address appropriate graph constructions suited for representing the ASD phenotype data. The sample population is drawn from a very large rigorous dataset: Simons Simplex Collection (SSC). Analysis of the results performed using graph quality measures, internal cluster validation measures, and clinical analysis outcome demonstrate the potential usefulness of resilience measure clustering for biomedical datasets. We also conduct feature extraction analysis to characterize relevant biomarkers that delineate the resulting subgroups. The optimal results obtained favored predominantly a 5-cluster configuration.


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© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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Applied Network Science