Discrete mixture models provide a well-known basis for effective clustering algorithms, although technical challenges have limited their scope. In the context of gene-expression data analysis, a model is presented that mixes over a finite catalog of structures, each one representing equality and inequality constraints among latent expected values. Computations depend on the probability that independent gamma-distributed variables attain each of their possible orderings. Each ordering event is equivalent to an event in independent negative-binomial random variables, and this finding guides a dynamic-programming calculation. The structuring of mixture-model components according to constraints among latent means leads to strict concavity of the mixture log likelihood. In addition to its beneficial numerical properties, the clustering method shows promising results in an empirical study.
"Gamma-based clustering via ordered means with application to gene-expression analysis." Ann. Statist. 38 (6) 3217 - 3244, December 2010. https://doi.org/10.1214/10-AOS805