Abstract: Unlabeled document collections are becoming increasingly common and availables mining such data sets represents a major contemporary challenge. Using words as features, text documents are often represented as high-dimensional and sparse vectors–a few thousand dimensions and a sparsity of 95 to 99% is typical. In this paper, we study a certain spherical k-means algorithm for clustering such document vectors. The algorithm outputs k disjoint clusters each with a concept vector that is the centroid of the cluster normalized to have unit Euclidean norm. As our first contribution, we empirically demonstrate that, owing to the high-dimensionality and sparsity of the text data, the clusters produced by the algorithm have a certain “fractal-like” and “self-similar” behavior. As our second contribution, we introduce concept decompositions to approximate the matrix of document vectorss these decompositions are obtained by taking the least-squares approximation onto the linear subspace spanned by all the concept vectors. We empirically establish that the approximation errors of the concept decompositions are close to the best possible, namely, to truncated singular value decompositions. As our third contribution, we show that the concept vectors are localized in the word space, are sparse, and tend towards orthonormality. In contrast, the singular vectors are global in the word space and are dense. Nonetheless, we observe the surprising fact that the linear subspaces spanned by the concept vectors and the leading singular vectors are quite close in the sense of small principal angles between them. In conclusion, the concept vectors produced by the spherical k-means algorithm constitute a powerful sparse and localized “basis” for text data sets.