The Variance of the Adjusted Rand Index

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For 30 years, the adjusted Rand index has been the preferred method for comparing 2 partitions (e.g., clusterings) of a set of observations. Although the index is widely used, little is known about its variability. Herein, the variance of the adjusted Rand index (Hubert & Arabie, 1985) is provided and its properties are explored. It is shown that a normal approximation is appropriate across a wide range of sample sizes and varying numbers of clusters. Further, it is shown that confidence intervals based on the normal distribution have desirable levels of coverage and accuracy. Finally, the first power analysis evaluating the ability to detect differences between 2, different adjusted Rand indices is provided.

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