Multidimensional Scaling

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Technique of multivariate analysis. Points or items distributed in a hyperspace, whose dimensions are a large number of variables, can be similarly distributed in a space of fewer dimensions. To do this, the technique ‘keeps in its mind’s eye’ two distributions: one the original, distributed in hyperspace, and the other distributed in a ‘new’ space of the required number of dimensions. The points, orginally randomly distributed, are moved about in the new space until the distances between points are similar in proportion to those between points in the original hyperspace. Thus, for example, a group of artefacts, about which a large number of characteristics and measurements have been recorded, can be represented by a two-dimensional plot. As a matter of interest, the reverse is also possible: distributions in a space of few dimensions can be ‘unfolded’ into space of many more dimensions. Multidimensional scaling is accomplished ‘iteratively’. This involves a considerable amount of computing time.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied

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